The solar project is in Gulshat, in the Aktogay district of the Karaganda region, around 700 km from the capital city Astana. Risen said development involved overcoming challenges arising from the plant’s location, including grid planning and managing the supply of materials. Extreme cold also made work difficult on a project which broke ground in June, said the developer.
“Through the planning and construction of the 40 MW plant we have gathered a substantial understanding of the market and regulatory framework of Kazakhstan”, said Risen Hong Kong general manager Champion Yuan. “This … development experience will help the team to better develop follow-up projects.”
The Chinese developer said it has planned further projects in Kazakhstan and stressed all emerging markets that come under Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure initiative can rely on support for PV installations.
Embracing clean energy
Central Asian countries are finally turning towards renewable energy, though development is yet to really kick off. Kazakhstan is as large as the European Union but has a population similar to that of the Netherlands. Coal-fired power plants meet around 75% of electricity demand.
In 2012, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev announced a plan for “the green economy” and raised the renewable energy generation target from 1% to 3% in 2020, 10% in 2030 and 50% in 2050. The country introduced a feed-in tariff scheme which was replaced by auction-based procurement, and also ushered in a finance administration with a British court style system to attract foreign investors.
In October, Kazakhstani electricity and power market operator JSC KOREM revealed the results of its first solar auction. The regulator said 28 applications were received from 20 companies, with project capacities ranging from 10.2 MW to 100 MW. The total volume of proposed capacity submitted was 1.27 GW. The regulator selected four PV projects totaling 170 MW for approval with a lowest electricity price bid of KZT18.6/kWh ($0.05170), submitted for a 50 MW project proposed by JSC Hydroenergy.