According to Yernur Dzhienbaev, deputy director of state-owned ZhambylGidroEnergo, the agreement was signed during the recent economic TARAZ INVEST-2012 forum.
He added that the project, the first phase of which will see 24 MW installed, will be located in the south of Kazakhstan. Over time, the plant is expected to be expanded to two GW, which is said to represent 10% of the total annual electricity consumption in the country. Construction is slated to begin in 2013 on the first, 80 million phase.
Dzhienbaev continued by saying that the project details have already been developed, and a feasibility study is currently said to be under review in the Kazakh government.
In addition to the installation of a two GW photovoltaic plant, the government is also said to be considering establishing solar silicon and photovoltaic module manufacturing facilities in Ust and Astana, respectively.
To date, the use of solar energy in Kazakhstan is insignificant, despite the high solar irradiation: the country boasts between 2,200 and 3,000 sunshine hours annually. Last month, Bisol unveiled its plans to install a two MW photovoltaic project in the city of Kapchagay in Almaty Province. When complete it is expected to be the first plant of its kind in Kazakhstan.
In related news, local analysts predict the presence of large reserves of high-purity quartz will further contribute to the development of solar energy in Kazakhstan. The countrys largest field, Sarykol, is located in the Karatal area of the country. Proven reserves there are estimated to be 1.7 million tons, with level of ore impurities at 0.5%.
Currently, the country produces metallurgical silicon at its "Kazsilikon" plant at a daily capacity of between 12 to 13 tons. In 2013, the plant is expected to reach a production level of 5,000 tons per year.
Edited by Becky Beetz