Kazakhstan hopes to host ‘Energy for the Future’ expo

November 19. Central Asia Newswire

By Hal Foster

Kazakhstan hopes to host ‘Energy for the Future’ expoKazakhstan is gaining confidence handling big events.

It will play host to 6,000 visitors at the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on December 1 and 2 in Astana.

And in February it will hold the Asian Winter Games in Astana and Almaty.

The next extravaganza it wants to land is an expo in Astana in 2017.

And an array of local and international officials said at a recent conference on Kazakhstan’s plans for an expo bid that the country has what it takes to put it on.

Kazakhstan officials from President Nursultan Nazarbayev on down know that hosting a world-class event can be a defining moment in a country’s development.

The Tokyo Olympics of 1964 put Japan on the map by showing the world the country had the wide-ranging skills necessary to pull off such a complex show.

Astana Mayor Imangali Tasmagambetov, who has presided over a construction boom that includes some of the most eye-catching structures in the world, said Astana has the events experience to make an Expo 2017 successful.

It has put on dozens of international conferences and exhibitions in recent years, he noted. These have  ranged from energy and mining conferences that have attracted some of the world’s top chief executives to the premier international math Olympiad for high school students to a gathering of the most prestigious organization dealing with livestock health.

“We’ve already done a lot of work developing hotels, restaurants” and entertainment venues, Tasmagambetov said.

One of the keys to landing an expo is a timely and intriguing theme, Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov said at the November 12 conference on Astana’s quest to land the event. And Kazakhstan believes it has a good one: “Energy of the Future.”

In the two decades since its independence, the country has become an oil and gas titan. When its giant Caspian Sea development Kashagan begins commercial production, Kazakhstan is expected to become one of the world’s Top 10 oil producers.

But it’s also beginning to develop its huge potential in nuclear, wind, solar and biomass power. And it is taking steps to modernize a Soviet-rooted electricity, gas and heating system that wastes massive amounts of energy.

Deputy Education Minister Makhmetgali Sarybekov said two energy-efficiency devices Kazakhstan is introducing are hydrodynamic heaters and heat pumps. Hydrodynamic heat costs half as much as traditional heat sources, he said, and heat pumps are three to five times more efficient than electricity.

Widespread use of the devices would save 62 million tons of fuel per year, he said.

Kazakhstan has begun building heat pumps in Ust-Kamenogorsk and plans a facility to produce more efficient LED lighting, Sarybekov said.

Another initiative is a plant in Karaganda that will produce polycrystalline silicon for solar panels.

The fact that Kazakhstan is working so hard on alternative energy and energy efficiency should lend credence to its effort to hold an expo with an “Energy of the Future” theme, Sarybekov said.

Steliana Nedera, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) resident coordinator for Kazakhstan, was also enthusiastic about the theme.

She said many of the UNDP’s projects in Kazakhstan are focusing on alternative energy or energy savings.

One recent effort involved introducing energy-savings materials in five buildings in Astana, she said. The retrofitting reduced the structures’ use of heat by 25 to 30 percent, she said. 

The United Nations now plans a pilot project aimed at reducing energy consumption in new buildings in Astana and elsewhere, she said.

In addition to having a winning theme, Kazakhstan must convince the 157 countries in the international expo governing body that it has the organizational skills and financing to put on a classy event.

If no other country bids for the 2017 expo, the members of the Paris-based Bureau of International Expositions can award it to Kazakhstan on a simple majority vote. If there’s more than one bidder, then more complicated voting formulas are used to select a winner.

Once a country wins an expo vote, it must prove to the Bureau of International Expositions that it has a viable event plan – or it could lose the expo.

The package must address such issues as the content of the expo, a site plan, how the event will be financed, length of the expo and how the site will be used after the event.