More know-how for renewables in Kazakhstan

Wind turbines

Wind turbines in Karaganda province in Kazakhstan. Photo: GIZ/Alexey Kobzev

With its wide open spaces, high mountain ranges and fast-flowing rivers, the Central Asian landscape offers ideal conditions for the use of renewable energy sources. In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in particular, hydropower is already delivering a large part of the energy mix. At the same time, however, there are widespread threats to energy security from outdated or inefficient infrastructure and the potential for solar and wind energy remains largely untapped.

The five countries that make up Central Asia, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, are well aware of this existing potential as well as the current and future relevance of renewable energy sources. This can clearly be seen in these nations’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which include the expansion of renewables as a key target for mitigating their greenhouse gas emissions.

Achieving this target will require the regional development and expansion of appropriate expertise, adequate resources and technical know-how relating to hydro, wind and solar power plants. In Central Asia, experts and state-of-the-art systems exist only as part of local clusters, and are therefore absent in large parts of the region. This problem is compounded by the current scarcity of higher education programmes focusing on renewable energy sources.

To help promote the expansion of renewable energy sources in the region, the German-Kazakh University in Almaty (DKU) organised a study trip in mid-September 2020 in which 14 young researchers from Central Asia (most of whom based in Kazakhstan) participated. During the trip, the students visited a number of facilities in order to learn about application scenarios and best practice for renewables. As a follow-up to the trip, the participants prepared a number of research papers about sustainable energy technologies as well as a short film documenting their experiences. These results will be presented in a collection of papers published by the DKU with the aim of sharing the knowledge obtained beyond the study group itself. 

The trip, which was organised as part of ‘Developing capacities for climate policy in Southeast & Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia’, a project funded by International Climate Initiative (IKI), also took into account scientific, technical and economic aspects in relation to renewable energy sources. These aspects therefore also formed the focus for two workshops, which were held before and after the one-week trip, and organised by representatives of government ministries and international organisations as well as the private sector. As a result, participants were able to develop their interests and specialised expertise both by practical experience and the new insights gained during the trip and the workshops.

IKI uses these educational programmes to support a broader, regional body of knowledge in relation to renewables in these countries. This also assists the DKU in its efforts to expand its degree courses relating to energy and the environment.