When the Soviet Union collapsed and fuel scarcity meant rolling power outages; giving birth in the dark at the Kyzyl Orda maternity hospital in southern Kazakhstan was a common occurrence. Since then, the country’s Sustainable Development initiatives include replacing fossil fuel power generation with wind power.
According to Almasadam Satkaliyev, who heads up the Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company, Kazakhstan should expand wind power as a way to diversify electricity generation while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the country’s goal is installing 2,000 megawatts of wind power by 2030. In economic terms this means $18 billion added to the economy, an increase of $100 million in tax revenues, 1,500 new well-paying jobs, a 4.2 million ton decrease in carbon dioxide emissions, more rural development and enhanced energy security.
With long-standing infrastructure paid for and abundant fossil fuel resources present, sustainable power development has not garnered widespread support. Subsequently, Kazakhstan’s current energy-intensive economy is among the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters per gross domestic product unit with 85% of electrical power coming from coal-burning.
Beginning with Kazakhstan’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2009, power generation policies are undergoing change. In 2012, the country’s president introduced a national strategy for accelerating green economic development mandating that 50% of Kazakhstan’s energy come from renewable sources by 2050. With high mountains and extensive deserts, the country possesses a wind capacity 18 times higher than existing electrical infrastructure.
In addition, the ministry has established a Renewable Energy Office and provided over 200 civil servants and NGO people with education and training in wind turbine technology and energy yield assessment. The first commercial wind energy plant began operations in 2011 in the Korday Crossing region, followed by two wind farm facilities in Karaganda and Kyzyl Orda.
Although, the country ranks high on ease of doing business, obtaining wind farm construction permits remains cumbersome. Kazakhstan plans include 13 more commercial wind farms from 2013 to 2020 which gives it a total capacity of 807 megawatts.
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