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Energy and Environment

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Staff at the Department of Hydrology at Kazhydromet discuss flood-prone areas in Kazakhstan
Staff at the Department of Hydrology at Kazhydromet discuss flood-prone areas in Kazakhstan
Petro Kotze for the USAID Smart Waters Program

USAID has provided training and technical assistance to enable Kazakhstan to modernize its energy sector while safeguarding the environment. Our support has focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and supporting more private investment in the energy sector. We provide technical assistance to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Energy, the Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company, the Financial Settlement Center, and others. More recently, our assistance has been focused on improving the investment climate for renewable energy and improving the efficiency of the heating and power plants.

Kazakhstan, already known as an energy economy, is expanding this leadership to include the next generation of clean energy technologies, especially the increased use of renewable energy. With its aging coal plants and transmission network, Kazakhstan is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and, as of 2015, its energy sector accounts for 82 percent of the GHG emissions. More than 80 percent of electricity comes from coal-fired generation, followed by 7 percent from natural gas and 8 percent from hydropower.

To its credit, the Government of Kazakhstan realizes the need to reform its energy profile. Kazakhstan proposed as its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) an economy-wide reduction of GHG emissions of 15 percent from 1990 emissions levels by 2030. Kazakhstan ratified the Paris Agreement in November 2016 and committed itself to the fulfilment of the proposed target. In 2013, First President Nursultan Nazarbayev set an ambitious goal of meeting the government’s commitment by achieving a 3 percent share of renewables for power generation by 2020, 30 percent by 2030, and 50 percent by 2050. The Government of Kazakhstan has set out toward meeting these ambitious goals by holding Central Asia’s first ever competitive auctions for renewable energy projects, where private companies offer to build and operate plants and sell the electricity at low cost. USAID has provided assistance to the Government of Kazakhstan in holding these auctions, which have proven to be critical in scaling up the use of renewable energy.

In Kazakhstan and the other four Central Asian countries, USAID is committed to helping the countries diversify their energy mix to include more renewable energy in the form of wind, solar and hydropower. We are providing assistance to the Government of Kazakhstan to help them develop policies and regulations that support the provision of energy at a low cost that is competitive with the existing prices for electricity. This low cost is achieved in large part by making the market more attractive to private investment.

USAID’s environmental programs have strengthened Kazakhstan’s capacity to manage water and environmental resources, supporting Kazakhstan’s emergence as a regional leader in integrated water resource management. USAID facilitates engagement on water issues between communities along the border of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic. USAID has also worked with Kazakhstani institutions to build their capacity and train emerging regional leaders in water resource management.

USAID will continue to work with Kazakhstan on the sustainability of transboundary water and environment resources and build on past and current USAID investments to strengthen understanding of critical water, agriculture and energy sector linkages, all which will support good governance, broad-based economic growth, and environmental health.

Results:

  • With USAID assistance, the Government of Kazakhstan added over 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects in Kazakhstan through competitive auctions, all of which ranged between 25-40 percent below the prevailing tariffs.
  • USAID provided technical assistance to Kazakhstan’s national grid operator on developing options for long term generation planning with the least costs.
  • USAID has supported educational reform in the water sector in cooperation with the Kazakhstan Office of the Executive Directorate of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (ED IFAS). Two professional standards were updated and now are used by the universities to develop their own educational programs, and by the employers – to assess the qualifications of potential employees.
  • USAID provided legal support to the Government of Kazakhstan in introducing adaptation articles into the country's new Environmental Code USAID created Small Basin Councils (SBCs) at Aspara and Kurkureu river basins along the Kyrgyz border. These councils collaborate across national borders, develop basin management plans, and make participatory decisions to manage transboundary water resources.
  • USAID’s assistance provided MIKE 11 software and training to Kazakhstan’s national weather agency, Kazhydromet. The software will allow the Government of Kazakhstan to better forecast flooding in major river basins, enabling the country to take precautionary measures to minimize damage.
  • To build the technical skills of a new generation of water resources managers in Kazakhstan, USAID funded six Kazakh students to obtain a master's degree in Integrated Water Resources Management at the Kazakh German University in Almaty.

Last updated: June 11, 2020

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