The paradigm of sustainable development

Oct 31. Kazpravda

By Nurlan Kapparov, Minister of Environmental Protection

The paradigm of sustainable developmentStrategic plans and measures taken in the republic speak about serious intentions of Kazakhstan to establish itself as a driving force of «green economy» and take on the role of scientific, technology and innovation hub of Eurasia.

Kazakhstan’s transition to a «green» economy is necessary to remove a number of holdbacks in its development. This is inefficient use of resources, inadequate education system, rates and prices for energy, the deterioration of natural resources and environment, dependence on exports of raw materials and external price fluctuations in commodity markets.

The current conditions only perpetuate the «brown» economy, which among other things is highly dependent on the energy derived from fossil fuels.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, sovereign Kazakhstan faced the problems of declined economy and environment. The Aral Sea lost much of its water, the Semipalatinsk region still bears the impact of nuclear weapons’ testing, and consequences of irrational use of natural resources, technological backwardness resulted in such problems as reduction of water sources, soil degradation, and accumulation of waste in huge quantities.

During the first two decades of independence, Kazakhstan has made significant progress in addressing socioeconomic problems. But environmental issues are still on the agenda. At that the choice between the options of solving accumulated problems is very difficult.

The alternative is to follow the vision of a sustainable future. This approach involves a complete overhaul of infrastructure and the model of economic development of the country, which will undoubtedly affect the interests of all — the system of government, every citizen and business structures. This decision was made by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, when he instructed the Government to develop the concept of the country’s transition to “green” economy. In May of this year already the Concept was approved by the decree of the President.

Our country has unique opportunities and prerequisites for the development of «green» economy: vast territory, advantageous location, adequate financial and natural resources, growing supply of more effective and affordable «green» technologies in the market. Today, the country is taking measures to modernize waste management and reduce air pollution, to improve water management, raise energy efficiency and energy saving and develop renewable energy sources. In view of hosting the specialized exhibition EXPO -2017 in Astana, the plans to develop alternative and renewable forms of energy have become even more relevant.

In his state of the nation address Kazakhstan — 2050 Strategy the President set the task to develop production of alternative and renewable forms of energy, which in 2050 should account for at least half of the total energy consumption. To achieve the goal much work is being done to study the best international practice of the introduction of renewable energy sources. As a result, amendments were developed and introduced in the legislation on the support and use of renewable energy sources.

The share of renewable energy with new and affordable technologies is growing rapidly. China is a world leader in the production of solar panels from photovoltaic cells through targeted state support. Germany in 2011 generated 20% of energy on renewable sources and by 2050 they plan to increase this level to 80 %. At that the renewable energy, compared with the traditional sources, creates 3 times more jobs.

The production and use of wind energy is developing most rapidly. The annual growth of the global wind industry is 30%. In Germany, the cost of wind energy in 2011 was lower than of the energy generated on coal — 9 cents / kWh (coal — 10 cents). According to forecasts, in 5 years its price will drop by half.

According to the Energy Information Agency of the U.S., the world production of solar energy by 2035 will grow 14-fold to 191 billion kW / h.  In 1997 they launched a large-scale federal program «Million Solar Roofs «, worth $ 6.3 billion. This initiative stimulated the development of domestic solar market, helped to restore the competitiveness of companies in the global market and create new jobs.

Germany in 2000 also launched the program » Photovoltaics on 100,000 roofs» valued at $ 2 billion.

In Kazakhstan, the potential of solar energy is 1trillion kW / h, which by 25 times exceeds the volume of consumption of fuel and energy resources. The economic potential is determined at more than 50-110 billion kW / h at the current annual consumption of 88 billion kW / h. The most convenient areas for placement of solar generation farms are the southern regions of the republic experiencing shortage of electric power.

Modern small-scale hydropower is the most economical and environmentally friendly method of producing electricity. Small hydropower plants allow saving the natural landscape, environment, and water quality. The world leader in small hydropower is China which put into operation 90 thousand of small hydroelectric power stations. The equipment for them is standardized and used widely. In India, the set capacity of small hydro power plants is over 200 MW, and facilities with the total capacity of over 150 MW are under construction in this country.

Kazakhstan also has a huge reserve of energy of small rivers. The total potential of small hydro plants with a unit capacity of less than 10 MW is more than 8 billion kW / h.

Biogas plants, in contrast to other independent power facilities, can operate based on renewable energy sources practically around the clock and in any place where the biomass or organic waste are available. In Austria the share of biofuels in the energy sector is 12%, in Finland — 23 %, in the countries of European Union — 14%.

In addition to power generation, the biogas technologies are also environmentally friendly methods to dispose organic wastes. In Kazakhstan, for example, the same agricultural wastes from crop production, organic fraction of municipal solid wastes can become a stable source of biomass for energy.

Domestic specialists basing on scientific and statistical data carried out economic analysis, which resulted in the adoption of specific indicators for the development of renewable energy sources. By 2020, their share should reach 3% of the total electricity production, which in terms of electric power will be about 1 GW; by 2030 — 12%, or 6 GW; by 2050 — 30%, or 30 GW.

But the main source of energy in the coming decades will be still coal and modern technologies, widely introduced in this sector to reduce emissions and improve the utilization of ash and slag.

RK government is developing an action plan for implementation of renewable energy projects by 2020. According to preliminary estimates, 31 RES objects will be put into operation by this date with the total capacity of 1 GW.

The interest of local and international investors in this sector is growing. Currently first «pilots» of low capacity have been launched.

From 2011 the renewable energy facilities with the total capacity of 16.5 MW were commissioned in the Akmola, Almaty, Zhambyl, Karaganda, Kostanai and North Kazakhstan regions.  Until the end of the year a number of «green» projects with the total capacity of 9 MW will be launched in the republic.

Recently, with the support of UNDP, we held an International Conference on the PartnershipProgramGreenBridge and the international specialized exhibition Astana EXPO -2017 with participation of non-governmental organizations, financial institutions and government agencies.

Eight countries, including Kazakhstan, signed the Charter thereby giving political support to official launch of the program. We will continue to work on the signing of the Charter by other countries and on the formation of institutional framework for the implementation of GreenBridge program.

The mission of the international specialized exhibition  EXPO -2017 in Astana  is the organization of a global dialogue on strategic priorities of modern energy policy, joint search for answers to major challenges of our time, creating a new model of «Energy of the Future » and  sustainable development of the planet.

The GreenBridge which was internationally recognized, aims to combine the efforts of Central Asian countries to provide «green» economic growth in the region and in the neighboring countries through international cooperation, technologies’ transfer, knowledge sharing and financial support from the major financial institutions and private sector.

The Ministry together with the National Company Astana EXPO -2017 has developed a draft Concept of the International specialized exhibition EXPO -2017.

At present the architectural competition for the best sketch idea of the Exhibition Complex Expo -2017 was summed up. The winner of the competition is a world known architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. In addition there will be housing, socio-cultural, education and healthcare objects, shopping centers, parks and boulevards on the territory of the Expo town.

ExpoCity will become a place for the embodiment of five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution. The master plan and buildings were designed based on the principles of environmental, economical and socially sustainable development. We expect that EXPO will provide itself with “green” energy from renewable sources.