Kazakhstan was strategic for us – it was the farthest point of our trip and from here we headed back home – and for those interested in geopolitics. Kazakhstan is positioned to control oil and gas flows from Central Asia to the East and the West. Therefore, the European Union and Russia both try to be its friends.
- WINNER TAKES IT ALL: Kazakhstan possesses twice the size of Dutch’ natural gas reserves – 2070 MTOE* versus 1120 MTOE – and enormous coal reserves – 23,513 million tons. It also has the highest CO2-emissions per capita of all countries we visit and is the #1 producer of uranium worldwide.
- GOOD GRADES: According to the World Energy Council Kazakhstan is also doing well in improving its energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix by introducing fixed rates on renewable energy and modernizing energy-infrastructure. Kazakhstan might even be the first country in Central Asia with an economy-wide carbon emissions system to cap emissions from its biggest emitters in the energy, coal, oil and gas extraction sectors. The system is on hold due to objections by Kazakh businesses, but should be implemented beginning of 2015.
- ANTI NUCLEAR MOVEMENT: Kazakhstan’s anti-nuclear movement, “Nevada Semipalatinsk”, formed in 1989, was one of the first major anti-nuclear movements in the former Soviet Union. It attracted thousands of people to its protests and campaigns which eventually led to the closure of a nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk in north-east Kazakhstan in 1991. The question is whether this movement still has some force: the Kazakh government plans to build a new nuclear power plant, to be opened in 2020. The wish to do so is not strange given the fact that Kazakhstan is the #1 producer of uranium worldwide.
Top three challenges
- WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY: Kazakhstan’s president is ambitious: by 2050 Kazakhstan should enter the list of the world’s thirty most-developed countries. He wants to do so by speeding up on energy transition and actively collaborates with Germany to do so. Kazakhstan has enormous potential to generate energy from wind, sun, and water resources. According to UNDP estimates, the potential of wind energy alone exceeds ten times Kazakhstan’s current energy consumption.
- TACTICAL RENEWABLES: Kazakhstan uses its renewable energy policy to expand its regional leadership. It is cautious with hydro and steps up the pace when it comes to wind energy, since this does not impact any of its neighbors negatively.
- REDUCTION OF CO2 EMISSIONS: The outdated mining and production industry of Kazakhstan is extremely energy-intensive. As a result, the country’s emissions have climbed 40 percent since 2006. To improve this trend, Kazakhstan voluntarily pledged in 2010 a reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 1992 levels by 2020. How it will do so without the planned local Emission Trading Scheme needs to be seen.
- Anti-nuclear movement in Kazakhstan – Wikipedia
- German energy transition role model for Kazakhstan
- List of Uranium producing countries – Kazakhstan ranks first with 33% of world production!
- Kazakh businesses halt local Emission Trading Scheme
- Kazakhstan’s renewable energy ambitions – Renewable Energy World
- Kazakhstan’s coal industry still expects to grow, but is weary of renewable energy developments