Kazakh giant pushes on with wind and solar ambitions

Kazakhstan state-controlled oil and gas producer KazMunayGaz has reaffirmed its plan to build two renewable energy projects in partnership with Western companies — but did not increase its carbon emissions reduction target.

Speaking earlier this week at an industry forum in the country’s informal oil capital of Atyrau, KazMunayGaz executive chairman Magzum Mirzagaliyev said that “environmental protection is a top priority for our company”.

He told the forum that KazMunayGaz is moving forward with a project to build a 1 gigawatt wind power plant in the country’s Zhambyl region that will include an energy storage system to increase reliability of supply.

The company has partnered with France’s Total Eren on the project, which it aims to commission in 2025.

The Zhambyl region in southern Kazakhstan borders Kyrgyzstan and is very near Uzbekistan, which is already leading former Soviet republics in Central Asia with solar and wind initiatives.

Two more wind plants with similar power ratings are planned for the Zhambyl region, where Kazakhstan’s first wind farms were commissioned in 2014 due to the strong winds throughout the year.

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One of the plans is led by China Power & China manufacturer SANY Renewable Energy. The other is being proposed by a collaboration of Kazakh state investment vehicle Samruk-Kazyna, Masdar of the United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan Investment Development Fund.

KazMunayGaz is also working on a renewable-energy plant for the Mangistau region in the south of Kazakhstan and set to deliver energy to the company’s regional oil producing subsidiaries, led by Ozenmunaygaz, to replace fossil fuel based power sources.

The proposed 120-megawatt facility will include solar and wind generation and will be built together with Italy’s Eni by 2025, at anticipated investment of $300 million, according to KazMunayGaz. The plant will also have a gas powered backup unit.

However, KazMunayGaz’s new renewable-energy projects have not had any impact on its target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

At the Atyrau event, KazMunayGaz reiterated its goal — first announced in 2021 — to cut such emissions by 1.6 million tonnes to 9.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2031, against the base level in 2019.

“As a former environmental minister, I am well aware of the current problems in this area [environmental protection],” Mirzagaliyev said.

“We do not deny their presence, we do not try to hide or silence them. We openly recognise them and are ready to discuss them with the general public, and most importantly, to find and implement ways to solve them.”

Mirzagaliyev also reported strong progress in reducing the flaring of associated gas, which fell by 89% this year from the 2019 base level, and reaffirmed it would stop completely by 2030.