Kazakhstan is a country rich both in fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. However, in the light of recent global developments such as unstable energy market, limited amounts of fossil fuels and deteriorating environmental conditions, the country took a course of developing renewable energy sources. The basic principle of the use of renewable energy is that it is extracted from continuous environmental processes. Renewable energy is derived from natural resources that are replenished naturally without human interaction. Therefore, renewable energy sources are attractive due to the inexhaustible resources, regardless of the prices on the global energy markets. Moreover, with the rapid development of the world economy, the demand for electricity is continuously increasing, while the reserves of non-renewables are depleting. Thanks to the advantageous geographical location and features, Kazakhstan has a great green energy potential, especially when it comes to wind power with wind corridors with an average wind speed of 5-6 meters per second (m/s) (Antonov, 2014).
Wind energy is one of the most dynamically developed renewable energy sources. Due to the advantages of wind power and due to the potential of contributing to the energy security of the country, this type of renewables is being widely introduced. Wind resources are widely spread over the territory of Kazakhstan. Moreover, electricity transmission over large distances has proven itself to be inefficient due to losses caused by aging infrastructure and by theft. Therefore, using wind power is economically feasible compared to the cost of electricity transmission generated by coal and gas-fired power plants. Therefore, from the economic standpoint, building wind farms in the areas with high wind potential, in the long run, is comparable to building and transmitting energy from a new coal-fired power plant. As for the environmental aspect of wind energy, an installation of a wind farm with a capacity of 500 megawatt (MW) that is capable of producing 1.5 million MW per hour energy annually is to prevent emissions of 1.5 million tons of greenhouse gas, 12 thousand tons of sulfur oxide, 7.8 thousand tons of nitrogen oxide, 12.6 thousand tons of ash and 420 thousand tons of solid waste (UNDP/GEF and Government of Kazakhstan, 2006). Also, in 2014, the government of Kazakhstan approved tariffs on electricity generated by renewable energy sources, establishing the rate of 22.68 Kazakhstani tenge (KZT) per one kWh of electricity from wind power plants (BRK, 2014).
Figure 1. Wind atlas of Kazakhstan (Source: Parsons Brinckerhoff).
The climate in Kazakhstan is favorable for wind farm constructions due to the existence of wind corridors with a wind speed above 5 m/s, which is essential for the operation of wind turbines. Caspian region, central and northern Kazakhstan, and southern and south-eastern Kazakhstan have the highest wind energy potential. According to the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of Kazakhstan, wind power potential of the country is estimated at 920 billion kWh of electricity annually. Moreover, the results of the “Kazakhstan – Initiative of Wind Power Market Development” project have shown that the average wind speed of 5-6 m/s suitable for the successful implementation of wind power plant projects is present across the country (Antonov, 2014). Besides, within the framework of the project, the wind atlas of the country has been developed, and locations with high wind speed can be used for electricity generation of 0.929 to 1.82 billion kWh per year (Figure 1).
There are several wind farms in operation and construction. The first wind power plant (WPP) in Kazakhstan, Korday WPP, started its operation in 2011 in Zhambyl region with an energy capacity of 1500 kW. Construction of a new wind power plant in Yereimentau located in the Akmola region, three kilometers away from the capital of Kazakhstan, Nursultan was started in 2013, and started supplying electricity before the EXPO-2017. Produced electricity is transferred to the national electricity line via eight kilometers long line. However, the amount of energy produced at the plant comprises less than 1% of the total electricity demand of the country. Currently, the plant has a capacity of 80 million kW per hour. It is planned to increase the capacity by more than two times. The increased capacity will aid to save up to 100 thousand tons of coal (24 khabar, 2016). At the beginning of 2020, Italian energy company, Eni, launched 48MW Badamsha wind farm located in north-west part of Kazakhstan. The wind farm is expected to provide the region with annual power generation of about 198GWh, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by coal-fired power plants by 172 thousand tons annually (Mavrokefalidis, 2020). Moreover, recently, construction of the new Zhanatas WPP in the south of the country was announced. The wind farm is to produce 100 MW of energy and save 262 thousand tons of CO2 emissions by coal-fired power plants annually (Kazinform, 2020).
Overall, large scaled wind power plants are planned to be constructed on ten sites selected by the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of the Republic of Kazakhstan. One of the most perspective sites in terms of wind power resources is the Zhungar corridor with a capacity of 17 billion kWh per square meter. Table 1 shows potential sites for the construction of wind power plants based on the available meteorological data, according to the Program of development of electric power industry until 2030.
Table 1. Potential sites for the construction of wind power plants (constructed based on CarNet, n.d. and Antonov, 2014).
|Potential sites||Power, MW|
To avoid environmental pollution caused by coal-fired power plants, it is important for Kazakhstan to develop green energy technologies. In addition, the development of renewable energy sources would diversify economic and energy sectors of the country, while improving the environment and human health. To conclude, other than being environmentally friendly, development of renewable energy generation as a whole gives an opportunity for Kazakhstan to build a strong economy and to meet its energy consumption demand. Unfortunately, despite all of the benefits of wind power generation, the main disadvantage of wind energy is the intermittent nature of wind. Therefore, the wind energy needs to be paired with another energy type that can be produced according to a schedule. Wind energy can be viewed as a complementary source of energy, not as an independent one.
Antonov Oleg (2014). Green energy of Kazakhstan in the 21st century: myths, reality and prospects. Review materials as of 2014.
BRK (2014). Overview of the electric power industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2013. Kazakhstan Development Bank.
CARNet (n.d.). Energy and renewable energy sources in Kazakhstan. The regional Environmental Center for Central Asia.
Kazinform (2020). EBRD, AIIB, ICBC and GCF provide US$ 95.3 million for wind farm in Kazakhstan. Retrieved from https://www.inform.kz/en/ebrd-aiib-icbc-and-gcf-provide-us-95-3-million-for-wind-farm-in-kazakhstan_a3710920. Accessed on 24.11.2020.
Mavrokefalidis Dmitris (2020). Eni launches wind energy production in Kazakhstan. Retrieved from https://www.energylivenews.com/2020/03/27/eni-launches-wind-energy-production-in-kazakhstan/. Accessed on 24.11.2020.
UNDP/GEF & Government of Kazakhstan (2006). Report: Prospective of wind power development in Kazakhstan. UNDP/GEF and Government of Kazakhstan wind power project.
24 khabar (2016). In details. Wind power plants in Kazakhstan. Retrieved from http://24.kz/ru/tv-projects/v-detalyakh/item/115135-v-detalyakh-vetrovye-elektrostantsii-kazakhstana. Accessed on 24.11.2020.
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute’s editorial policy.
Saule Akhmetkaliyeva was a research fellow in the Eurasian Research Institute at H.A.Yassawi Kazakh Turkish International University. She holds a BS in petroleum engineering from the Kazakh National Technical University named after K.I. Satbayev and a MS in Environmental Science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with a GPA of 4.0. Saule has conducted research on new methods of matrix acidizing of carbonate formations in Karachaganak field, Kazakhstan for her bachelor’s degree, and a research on advanced sedimentary analysis of sediments from Marmara Gölü, Turkey for her master’s thesis.