Natural Resources in Kazakhstan: Energy.

Outlook

With increasing urbanisation and a growing energy intensive society Kazakhstan relies on inefficient coal based power plants which lack sufficient emission containment technology. Although there are proven coal reserves of 37 billion tons [1], retrofitting current energy consuming systems (domestic, commercial and industrial sector), and more importantly decarbonisation of the whole energy sector is important to prevent long term environmental damage and detrimental health effect due to air, water and land pollution caused by emissions. Additionally, in order to meet the 25% (baseline 1992) reduction in carbon emission agreed under the Kyoto Protocol, decarbonisation from current fossil based technology or at least shift toward clean fossil technology is necessary.

The utility of natural resources and low carbon alternatives for energy generation in Kazakhstan efficiently and sustainably offer both opportunities and challenges.

Local Resources

Exploitation of natural resources, namely Wind, Solar, Biomass, Uranium and Water for renewable energy generation is an untapped area with huge potential. With an average wind speed of 5m/s, over 50% of Kazakhstan, wind energy can contribute up to 760 GW towards the projected 180 TWh electricity demand in 2030 [1]. Kazakhstan receives 2200-3000 hours of annual sunshine with an average insolation of 1500 kWh/m2. Only one 2 MW solar PV plant is in operation currently. Bioenergy, is the least utilised renewable energy with only about 10% utilised as fertilizer and cattle feed [1]. The 13 Mt of agricultural waste has potential to provide energy to remote regions as well as use of pellets/biocoal at centralised facilities. Hydro power accounts for 13% of current total capacity, but trans-country reliance, lack of stable water supply and aquaculture needs limit further utilisation.

Research issues

Key barriers preventing cleaner energy systems are lack of reliable resource data, gaps in technical expertise, lack of effective governance/policies, as well as geographical challenge coupled with absence of foresight from top down has resulted in limited development and motivation.

Research Recommendations

  1. Collect reliable resource data for wind, solar, biomass including agricultural and urban waste
  2. Improve efficiency of energy use in buildings (domestic, commercial, tertiary and industrial) and processes (commercial and industrial)
  3. Collect data for heat/electricity and load profiles and scenario generation for next 50 years to be delivered
  4. Design and develop Kazakhstan specific generation and supply side solutions (systems and services) whilst working with the existing systems (not against them). The systems to be developed must take into account realistic resources available near urban centres (Astana and Almaty) and involve local experts. It is thought that the most pertinent technologies for Kazakhstan will comprise optimised combi solar-biomass, solar-wind, biomass-wind to displace carbon intensive energy technologies. These technologies can be showcased at the Expo2017.

Bhavish Patel (Imperial College London), Harjit Singh (Brunel University), Aisulu Taisarinova (Kazakh-German University), Ahilan Sangaralingam (University of Leeds).

Sources:

Marat Karatayev, Michèle L. Clarke, 2014, Current Energy Resources in Kazakhstan and the Future Potential of Renewables: A Review, Energy Procedia 59, 97-104.

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