The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and its partners will provide Kazakhstan with loans worth nearly $1 billion to help Central Asia’s largest country tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
EBRD, which was established in 1991 to help stimulate the post-socialist economies in central and eastern Europe, is planning to channel up to $24.8 million into Kazakhstan’s renewable energy sector to support the construction of a 100-megawatt (MW) wind farm near the town of Zhanatas in the south of the country.
According to a statement issued by EBRD on Monday, the assistance package for Kazakhstan will also include a $34.3 million loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as well as $13.3 million loan from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. In addition, a concessional loan of up to US$ 22.9 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will be submitted to support Kazakhstan’s transition to the 'green economy.’
The project to construct the wind farm in the south of Kazakhstan was launched this July and is now operated through a special purpose entity established by China Power International Holding (CPIH) and Visor Investment Coöperatief, a private investment holding company from Kazakhstan. The initiative features the design, construction, commissioning, operation, and maintenance of the wind farm, along with the construction of necessary infrastructure for grid integration.
Meanwhile, the facility will also help Kazakhstan keep its environmental commitments made back in 1999.
“The new wind power plant will help reduce annual CO2 emissions by approximately 262,000 tonnes and contribute to meeting Kazakhstan’s goal of becoming a leader in the development of renewable energy in Central Asia by significantly reducing national emissions,” reads the statement published to the EBRD’s official website.
Kazakhstan’s population is almost 19 million – high for Central Asia, but globally low. Under the Kyoto Protocol, which went into effect in 2009, Kazakhstan vowed to reduce its carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2020 and up to 30 percent by 2050. The country is committed to switching to a green economy, despite vast fossil fuel reserves, and is determined to generate 10 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030; and at least half by mid-century.
According to data compiled by the country’s statistics agency, Kazakhstan produced 96.7 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 2019, of which 2.4 billion were generated from renewables. By late 2019, the installed capacity of clean energy facilities in Kazakhstan amounted to 1,050 MW, of which nearly 542 MW or 51.6 percent accounted for solar power plants.
Meanwhile, officials from EBRD are convinced that the country’s renewable energy industry, including wind energy still has an untapped potential.
Kazakhstan’s steppe geography makes it suitable for the development of wind energy. Roughly 50 percent of the country’s territory has average wind speeds of 4 to 6 meters per second - suitable for energy generation. The most promising areas include the northern and central regions, as well as the Caspian Sea region, according to EBRD’s data.
EBRD has long been partnering Central Asia’s largest country within this industry. As of today, the financial institution has invested over $9.5 billion through 277 projects in the economy of Kazakhstan. In 2014, the EBRD signed the first large-scale wind power project in the Caspian country, providing it with a loan worth €59.2 million. Another loan of €18 million was submitted by the Clean Technology Fund (CTF). The wind farm located in Central Kazakhstan was inaugurated in 2015.