Hydropower potential of kazakhstan: prospects of development

Abstract. Ensuring energy security is one of the key strategic priorities of Kazakhstan. The Republic is interested in accelerating the process of transition to a diversified and “green” power technology-oriented model of economic development. In recent years, the strategy of expanding the use of renewable energy sources (RES) can be considered as one of the most important activities of the government of Kazakhstan on the modernization of the national energy system. The increased attention paid to the creation of a stable functioning renewable energy system is reflected in the formation of relevant legislation in Kazakhstan, which provides opportunities for local and foreign investors to implement projects for the construction of energy generation facilities using renewable energy.

Kazakhstan intends to modernize most of its infrastructure over the next 20 years through the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies. There is a strong political momentum in the country to move towards a green economy. Thus, Kazakhstan-2050 Strategy and other strategic program documents stated ambitious goals to achieve 50% of the share of alternative and renewable energy by 2050 in its electricity generation sector, as well as to reduce the energy intensity of GDP by 25% by 2020, compared with the baseline level of 2008 [1]. Kazakhstan’s plans to introduce alternative energy sources into electricity production are shown in Diagram 1.

The proposed scheme is quite feasible. According to the estimates of the Minister of Energy Kanat Bozumbayev, the share of renewable energy sources in Kazakhstan will be 42% by 2050 due to the reduction of coal use [2].

The total potential of RES in Kazakhstan is very significant and is estimated at more than 1 trillion kWh per year. The most promising area for development in Kazakhstan is wind energy (technical potential of 929 billion kWh). The total hydropower potential of Kazakhstan is 170 billion kWh per year, with 62 billion kWh being its technical potential, of which 30 billion kWh per year is economically feasible for use. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan produces on average about 8-9 billion kWh per year, which indicates the insufficient use of hydropower resources of the country [3].

The total potential of RES in Kazakhstan is very significant and is estimated at more than 1 trillion kWh per year. The most promising area for development in Kazakhstan is wind energy (technical potential of 929 billion kWh). The total hydropower potential of Kazakhstan is 170 billion kWh per year, with 62 billion kWh being its technical potential, of which 30 billion kWh per year is economically feasible for use. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan produces on average about 8-9 billion kWh per year, which indicates the insufficient use of hydropower resources of the country [3].

However, today the hydropower segment is the most developed renewable and alternative energy source in Kazakhstan. Hydroelectric power plants installed in both the Soviet and post-Soviet periods play an important role in the country’s energy balance. Gross electricity production from hydroelectric power plants (HPPs) in Kazakhstan increased from 7.3 billion kWh in 1990 to

10.3 billion kWh in 2018. However, here you need to consider a number of nuances. Thus, over the past 3 years, the share of electricity produced by large hydropower plants tends to decrease. Thus, in 2016, the share of hydraulic structures accounted for 11.6 billion kWh of electricity produced, while in 2017 this figure fell to 11.1 billion kWh. In the first quarter of 2019, hydropower facilities produced 2.038 billion kWh, which is only 10 million kWh more than the same period in 2018. In this respect, the share of hydroelectric power plants in total electricity production is steadily decreasing from 12.3% in 2016 to 10.9% in 2017 and 9.7% in 2018. If we take into account the 1st quarter of 2019, this figure was even 7.3%.

In general, it should be noted that according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the installed capacity of hydroelectric power plants in Kazakhstan in 2018 amounted to 2755 MW. In fact, Kazakhstan ranks third among

Central Asian countries after Tajikistan (5631 MW) and Kyrgyzstan (3679 MW) in determined hydropower capacity [4].

The mode of operation of the HPP of Kazakhstan was determined by the water balance and hydrological situation. The decrease in generation at hydroelectric power plants of Kazakhstan in 2018 comparing with last year is due to reduced water consumption at HPPs. The decrease in electricity production in Almaty region occurred due to the decrease in generation at the Kapshagai HPP of AlES JSC (-314.5 million kWh or -21% of the level of 2017), Moynak HPP JSC (-180.3 million kWh or -15% of the level of 2017). In the East Kazakhstan region, the decrease in electricity production is associated with a decrease in generation from hydroelectric power plants: AES Shulbinsk HPP LLP (-171.6 million kWh or -8% of the level of 2017), Bukhtarma HPP of Kazzinc LLP (-195.7 million kWh or -6% of the level of 2017), AES Ust-Kamenogorsk HPP LLP (-56.2 million kWh or 3% of the level of

2017). This decrease in generation in the reporting period is due to a decrease in water consumption relative to 2017 [5].

A similar situation developed in 2017. The decrease in generation was observed in the hydroelectric power plants of Kazakhstan (-448 million kWh or -3,9%), due to lower water flow at the Irtysh HPP Cascade and hydropower plants of Almaty region.

Of course, it is premature to talk about the criticality of the situation, especially in view of the factor of seasonality of changes in the water content of rivers and climatic features of the region. At the same time, it should be noted that, despite the decrease in the productivity of large hydropower plants, the general trend for steady growth is observed both in the production and consumption of electricity. Electricity production in 2018 in Kazakhstan amounted to 106.7 billion kWh (an increase of 4.3% by 2017). Electricity consumption in the country amounted to 103.2 billion kWh (an increase of 5.5% by 2017).

It is estimated that more than 66% of the total water intake in Kazakhstan, mainly from the Syr Darya, Ili, Chu, Talas and Irtysh rivers, is used for agriculture, including irrigation and animal husbandry, and 30% is used for industry. The remaining 4% is used for human consumption. In fact, Kazakhstan is currently facing the need to improve the regional water strategy and strengthen measures to preserve the

resource potential of the river system and its environmental safety.

As can be seen from Figure 1, there are three hydropower-rich regions in the country: Irtysh river basin with large

hydroelectric power plants (Bukhtarma, Shulbinsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk), Ili river basin (Kapshagay, Moynak) and Syr Darya, Talas and Chu river basins (Shardarinsk).

It is worth noting that water resources are extremely disproportionately distributed within the country and are characterized by significant seasonal dynamics. For example, the basins of the Balkhash-Alakol and Irtysh basins in the Eastern and NorthEastern regions account for almost 75% of the surface water resources generated domestically, while there is a significant water shortage in the Western and SouthWestern regions. Today there are eight main river basins in Kazakhstan:

  • The basin of the Syr Darya (Turkestan and the Kyzylorda region);
  • Balkhash-Alakol (Almaty region and part of Zhambyl, Karaganda and East Kazakhstan regions, part of China and a

small part of Kyrgyzstan);

  • The Chu-Talas-Assa rivers basin (part of Zhambyl region, including part in Kyrgyzstan);
  • The Irtysh river basin (East Kazakhstan and Pavlodar region);
  • The Nura-Sarysu river basin, as well as lakes Tengiz and Karasor;
  • The Ishim river basin (Akmola and North Kazakhstan regions);
  • The Tobol-Torgai basin;
  • The Ural-Caspian basin (West Kazakhstan and Atyrau regions and part of Aktobe region). [6]

It should be noted that about 90% of all rivers of the country are small, which makes the construction of small hydropower plants

economically feasible. In fact, Kazakhstan systematically implements projects related to the commissioning of small hydropower plants. In Kazakhstan there are 2174 rivers with a length of more than 10 km with a total length of more than 83.2 thousand km. The number of rivers from 10 to 50 km long is 1889 (86.9%), from 50 to 100 km – 130 (6%), more than 100 km– 155 (7.1%) [7].

It should be noted that the newly created small hydroelectric power plants are classified by the Kazakh authorities as RES. While large and medium-sized hydroelectric power plants are classified separately. However, this gradation is quite understandable, and correlates with the national approach to the transition to a “green” economy.

 

2017

2018

1 Half of 2019

Small Hydroelectric Power Plants

649.1

807.4

393.8

RES

1102.4 (1.08%)

1352 (1.27%)

922.95 (1.77%)

Table 1. Electricity Generation by Small Hydroelectric Power Plants in the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2017-2019 (million kWh)

Source: according to the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Sufficiently low cost, reliability and environmental friendliness are strong arguments in favor of the construction of hydropower projects of low capacity. East Kazakhstan, Zhambyl and Almaty oblasts are the leaders in the implementation of relevant initiatives.

In fact, local authorities of Almaty region have already formed a special program for the development of hydropower potential. This is not surprising, because 65% of the reserves of hydropower resources of mountain rivers of all Kazakhstan are concentrated in the Almaty region. Due to the developed program, 28 facilities will be built in the region until 2025, which will additionally produce more than 850 MW of their own electricity [8].

In addition, a study conducted by a specialist in the Turkestan region identified more than 43 potential sites for small hydropower plants on 20 rivers with a total capacity of 119.84 MW. For example, we are talking about the construction of two small hydropower plants with a total capacity of 4.2 MW on the Mashat river in the Tulkubas district of the region [9].

During 2015, the Kazakh authorities managed to implement a number of hydropower projects, such as Intumak HPP with a capacity of 600 kW in Karaganda region, Ryshzhan HPP with a capacity of 2 MW in Turkestan region, Karash HPP and Verkhne-Baskan HPP-1 in Almaty region with a capacity of 125 kW and 4.2 MW, respectively. In addition, in 2016, the authorities of Almaty region launched a small hydroelectric power plant with a capacity of 17 MW, located on the Lepsy river of Sarkansky district. Two more HPPs with a total capacity of 13 megawatts will be put into operation in Almaty region. Their construction is planned to be completed in 2020. The cost of construction of the Verkhne-Baskan HPP is 2-4 billion tenge. Its capacity will be 8.8 MW. The Verkhne- Baskan hydroelectric power station-3 will cost 3.4 billion tenge. Its capacity will be 4.2 MW [10].

Zhambyl region has also confirmed its intention to install four chains of small hydroelectric power plants in Koksay district of Zhualyn in addition to the hydroelectric power plant at the Tasotkel reservoir with a capacity of 9.2 MW and the Karakystak Hydroelectric Power Plant with a capacity of 2.3 MW, launched in 2013 [11].

Despite the fact that since 2013 the country has started the active launch of new hydropower facilities, the average age of hydroelectric power plants in Kazakhstan is more than 30-40 years. Moreover, since HPPs in Kazakhstan, with the exception of large hydroelectric power plants, have relatively low capacity, they are aimed at regulating the distribution of electric load while readjusting the energy supply during periods of peak consumption.

Nevertheless, the hydropower sector is a key element of the country’s energy security. After decades of ups and downs, the total energy production generated by HPPs in Kazakhstan is finally stabilizing, giving prospects for further development of the industry.

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Message of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Leader of the nation N. A. Nazarbayev to the People of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan-2050 Strategy: New Political Course of the Established State // Kazakhstanskaya Pravda. - 2012.- December 15. Pp. 1-8
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  3. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership. Policy and Regulation Overview (Kazakhstan). 2014. From https://www.reeep. org/kazakhstan-2014
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  7. Current State and Prospects of Development of Small Hydropower in the CIS countries.- Almaty, 2011. P. 17-18
  8. 6 Small Hydropower Plants will be Opened on the Baskan river in Almaty Region//https://24.kz/ru/news/economyc/item/243099-6- malykh-ges-otkroyut-na-reke-baskan-v-almatinskoj-oblasti
  9. SKR Will Build Two Hydroelectric Power Plants with a Capacity of 4.2 MW //https://strategy2050.kz/ru/news/37367/
  10. Electricity Production Decreased in Kazakhstan / https://tengrinews.kz/kazakhstan_news/v-kazahstane-snizilos- proizvodstvo-elektroenergii-373833/
  11. Hydroelectric Power Plant with a Capacity of 18 MW is under Construction in Zhambyl region //https://inbusiness.kz/ru/last/ges- moshnostyu-18-mvatt-stroyat-v-zhambylskoj-oblasti
Year: 2019
City: Almaty