Wind energy sector in KAZAKHSTAN receives boost

Initiative to increase the use of alternative energy sources in Kazakhstan

In a major initiative to increase the use of alternative energy sources in Kazakhstan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Kazakh government have launched a three-year programme to develop the country’s wind sector. Although significant resources in the form of hydro, solar and wind energy are available, 98 percent of all energy consumed in the former Soviet republic comes from coal, oil and gas. “This is the first large-scale project aimed at increasing the use of alternative energy sources in Kazakhstan,” UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for Kazakhstan, Gordon Johnson, told IRIN, just prior to the launch on Thursday, noting its impact on greenhouse gas emissions. “Wind could prove a viable energy source for Kazakhstan,” Gennady Doroshin, UNDP project manager, told IRIN in the capital Astana, describing the country as one of the most appropriate places in the world to develop wind energy. Located on the airflow between the north and south, the vast steppe nation is an ideal location to harness the wind’s power.

The project follows a comprehensive UNDP two-year study on wind potential in the Jungar Gates region of southeastern Kazakhstan, an area identified as having one of the highest wind potentials in the world. UNDP will also assist the government in formulating a national development programme for the sector, expanding the programme of wind measurements and preparing wind potential maps for different regions. Such initiatives should prove vital for the world’s seventh largest nation and a leading country in Central Asia in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. And with a rapidly developing economy - the fastest in the region - emission levels looked set to increase. Given Kazakhstan’s current growth rates, green house emissions would exceed 1990 levels, Doroshin warned. “If the country was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol - something it intends to do - it would need to reduce emission levels to less than or equal 1990 levels - a virtual impossibility without the use of alternative energy sources,” he explained.

UNDP estimates the country’s wind energy potential at 1,820 billion kilowatts per hour (KWh), making it particularly promising. At the same time, there is also the opportunity to significantly reduce the cost of future wind energy by producing turbine parts locally with foreign investment. The project is part of the government’s overall strategy in meeting its obligations in the UN Convention on Climate Change it signed in 1995. The Global Environmental Facility (GEF), an independent financial organisation providing grants to developing countries for projects that benefit the global environment and promote sustainable livelihoods in local communities, provided over US $2 million for the project’s implementation, with private companies expected to contribute another $4 million.
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
Kazakhstan, wind energy, wind power, wind turbine, wind farm, onshore, offshore

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