The Third Almaty Energy Forum opened at KBTU
November 6, 2023
Today, representatives of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Development Programme in Kazakhstan (UNDP) gathered on the premises of KBTU to address the issue of accelerating the energy transition in Central Asian countries. The forum will be held at the Kazakh-British Technical University until 8 November.
The dialogue participants are committed to enhancing regional collaboration, bolstering technical capabilities, and assisting Central Asia in innovating and modernizing its infrastructure. Their goal is to establish sustainable energy systems that are not only safe and affordable but also aim for net-zero energy, reflecting a solid commitment to environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.
Representatives from UNECE, UNDP, the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and KBTU spoke at the forum's opening. They highlighted the key energy transition issues that should be addressed in the discussions.
Attaining carbon-neutral and resilient energy systems by mid-century is a common goal across the UNECE region. Actions to implement the region-wide decarbonization are underway, however, existing climate models indicate that the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) fall short in meeting the collective global target of limiting global warming to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius. Dario Liguti, Director of the UNECE Sustainable Energy Division, said that the organisation is currently developing regulatory tools to help countries develop and build sustainable energy systems:
“We have recently relaunched the Carbon Neutrality Toolkit, which identifies technological and policy options for achieving net neutrality. This toolkit was developed specifically for policymakers to help them make informed decisions on how to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. Through this platform, we help countries to develop sustainable and carbon-neutral energy systems based on 3 pillars: energy security, affordability, and environmental sustainability.”
The Director of the UNECE Sustainable Energy Division also expressed his condolences over the tragedy that occurred at the Kostenko mine on October 28, noting that UNECE has a dedicated Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane and Just transition… and we have developed a series of reports, including our flagship: the Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Drainage and Use in Coal Mines.
Zhandos Nurmaganbetov, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, noted in his welcoming speech at the Almaty Energy Forum:
“Since we adopted the 2060 carbon neutrality policy, the entire government has been carefully implementing various approaches to succeed in this direction... To achieve a positive outcome and bring emissions to zero, other sectors of the economy and industry must be involved, and everyone must participate in these discussions. As for the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan, we have announced a five-year plan and are holding tenders for renewable energy projects. Energy sources are expected to grow from zero to hundreds of megawatts. Financial institutions are helping us: the Asian Development Bank and the EBRD. A large part of the investment will go towards modernising the energy supply, creating high-voltage corridors and legislative initiatives to balance the market.”
“Delivering a resilient energy system is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each country will need to consider its own natural resources endowment and regulatory structure. All low- and zero-carbon technologies will need to play a role and each country is free to choose its own technology pathway to design and deploy a resilient energy system and to deliver on the climate targets,”said Laura Altinger, Head, Regional Nature, Climate and Energy Team, UNDP Bureau for Europe and Central Asia.
The Rector of the Kazakh-British Technical University, Maratbek Gabdullin, emphasized the importance of the event for the university and ongoing scientific research. At KBTU, the School of Materials Science and Green Technologies produces solar panels for academic and practical research.
“Just as importantly, we have started work on new superconducting materials with the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in 2023, led by world-leading scientists. We also continue to work with the UNDP to develop and promote renewable energy issues. Therefore, the results of the Forum will allow to develop a set of recommendations and formulate a further action plan aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and collaboration to create sustainable energy systems in the Central Asian region,”added the KBTU Rector.
This year, the Forum brought together representatives from the energy ministries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan as well as representatives from international organisations, the financial sector, science, and academia to discuss the topics:
- Reduction and management of methane emissions in all fossil fuel value chains;
- Water-energy nexus and energy system resiliency;
- Increasing funding for low and zero-carbon solutions;
- Research of critical raw materials;
- Investing in human capital and training the next generation of energy experts.
During the side event, participants from Central Asian countries shared practical experiences in reducing investment risks and introducing “green” financial instruments within and outside the region. The main focus was on removing uncertainties and risks for investors in the field of renewable energy sources (RES) and energy efficiency. The main objective of these discussions is to create attractive conditions for mobilising private investment in renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency in the Central Asian region, which is a key element for accelerating the transition to sustainable energy. The side event was co-organised by UNECE and UNDP.
Dario Liguti, Director of the UNECE Sustainable Energy Division, highlighted a case study by the Economic Commission for Europe conducted across five distinct regions. The study scrutinized 100 renewable energy initiatives, choosing 20 from each region for analysis. The UNECE equipped investors with training and supported the project leaders in executing the necessary tasks. A year into the program, 20 percent of the projects involved had shown progress — a notable uptick from the previous year, which saw no such advancement as investor and project leader training was absent. Consequently, a strategy was adopted and recommended to provide ongoing training for both stakeholders and to facilitate a consistent exchange of insights.
Oleg Khmelev, the International Chief Technical Advisor of the UNDP, the Global Environment Facility, and the Republic of Kazakhstan's government collaborative projects outlined key factors for addressing challenges in securing financing for renewable energy projects. These include providing guarantees, and financial support for investors, reducing risks through legislative enhancement, maintaining continuous experience sharing, and organizing auctions. Khmelev particularly underlined that the auction approach was launched in Kazakhstan in November 2022, under the aegis of the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan. This strategy has facilitated the realization of numerous projects, with the Turkestan and Akmola regions notably benefitting and showing significant growth.
The Almaty Energy Forum will continue till 8 November. In the next few days, a series of key discussions will unfold, focusing on various critical themes: “Access to critical raw materials in Central Asia”, “Designing and implementing effective policies for methane emissions”, “Developing human capital for a just energy transition in Central Asia”, and “Sharing lessons learned and best practices from the development of SDG 7 Roadmaps”. These sessions aim to delve into significant aspects of sustainable energy and environmental policy.
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