INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES SEEK TO BOOST KAZAKHSTAN’S SOLAR SECTOR
Astana, March 18: Kazakhstan has
attracted more than $180 billion in foreign investment since independence in
1991, mostly in oil and gas. The world’s ninth largest country by territory
holds slightly more than 3 percent of the world’s recoverable oil reserves.
However, Kazakhstan is also moving beyond fossil fuels and towards alternative
For example, a new solar
panel production plant was launched in December 2012. Since its launch on Dec.
25, 2012, the plant, a subsidiary of KazAtomProm, has produced 27,564
photoelectric modules worth two billion tenge (US$13 million) with a 6.4 MW
generating capacity. When fully loaded, the plant produces over 300
photoelectric modules a day, according to a representative of KazAtomProm.
International companies are
also interested in getting into the solar panel business in Kazakhstan.
KB-Enterprises is an international company with headquarters in Astana and
offices in North America, the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. It is one
of the few foreign companies capable of building a solar power plant in
“With my partner Dr. Kurt
Becker who is based in Germany, we are a financial consultancy company that
represents investment companies, as well as energy companies,” said
KB-Enterprises Managing Director Taylan Karamanli. “We have been operating in
Kazakhstan for about one year and we are seeking to boost our operations,
create more jobs for Kazakh people, which will educate local people, give them
new professions, upgrade their qualifications each year, pay state taxes,
employee taxes, contribute into the pension funds. We would like to set up a
factory that would produce solar panels eventually.”
One of the challenges of
operating in Kazakhstan, says Karamanli, is feeling secure in the country.
“What we want is guarantees
from the government. We don’t want financial help, we have the investments. We
just want the guarantees, the land and permissions. If only the government
could provide that, we could connect to the local network and that is exactly
what we need. Other than that, once we have the land and permissions, our
engineers will set everything up. Basically, we want our investments to be
secure,” he explained.
according to Karamanli, is the “availability of high officials. We need to talk
to decision makers and sometimes we get stuck at mid-level management who don’t
“We need to clearly
understand who to turn to. That has been our challenge so far, whether for
instance, we should turn to the city of Astana or Almaty, or a ministry. We
don’t know exactly who to talk to. It is not very clear. I would call these
jurisdictional and procedural questions.”
Based on 1 MW photo voltaic
(PV) plant, Karamanli outlined some of the outputs of his future projects.
“For independent power
supplies, we have designed a 1MW PV power plant with 2MW battery storage
capacity and new (or existing) 3 x 400k VA diesel generators. This can cover
the consumption of 400 households (1,600 people),” he explained and went very
technical. “For this, the total cost is approximately $6 million. Only the PV
installation is approximately $2 million per MW. Battery storage is
approximately $1 million per MW. For small-scale residential, 4 person
household in Germany, for instance, we would need approximately 5kW PV plus
5kWh battery to stay energy independent for approximately eight months
(excluding winter months). With the Kazakh winter, I assume that it should be
sufficient to cover electricity supply, as well and maybe we will need a 10kWh
battery, which costs approximately $20,000. Every kWh of PV can save 0.6 kg of
CO2, which is approximately 60-90 kg/m2 installation.”
Part of Karamanli’s success
and understanding of the business environment in Kazakhstan results from his
knowledge of the local mentality and culture.
“As I live here, I
understand the country’s needs. Although the country is rich in oil and gas,
and other resources, Kazakhstan still has a deficit of energy. It needs to
produce more and more,” he said. “We can talk about Astana as the pearl of
Central Asia and an example of a lifetime.”