Nuclear 'optimal solution' for decarbonising Kazakhstan, says President

07 September 2021

The Government of Kazakhstan and the Samruk-Kazyna sovereign wealth fund will over the next year explore the possibility of developing nuclear energy in Kazakhstan, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in his State of the Nation address on 1 September. The country is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060 but will need energy for quality growth, he said.

President Tokayev delivered the State of the Nation address on 1 September (Image: President of the Republic of Kazakhstan)

Kazakhstan’s economy, the largest in Central Asia, is currently experiencing the effects of the pandemic but the nation is "consistently implementing" policies with the strategic goal of ensuring its "leading" role in Central Asia and strengthening its position in the global economy, he said.

After announcing large-scale regional infrastructure modernisation projects, including the construction, modernisation and expansion of combined heat and power plants, and the commissioning of some 2400 MW of renewable energy capacities, Tokayev turned to decarbonisation.

"The world is moving towards greening industry and economy. Today these are no longer just words, but concrete decisions in the form of taxes, duties and technical regulation measures. We cannot stand aside, as all this affects us directly through export, investment, and technology transfer. This is, without any exaggeration, the issue of sustainable development of Kazakhstan," he said.

"Therefore, I have set the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. It is necessary to work in this direction very pragmatically. The population and economy of our huge country are growing, and energy is needed for quality growth.

"With the gradual decline of the coal era, in addition to renewables, we will have to think about sources of reliable basic energy generation. By 2030, there will be a shortage of electricity in Kazakhstan.

"Global experience suggests the most optimal solution - the peaceful atom."

During the coming year, the Kazakh government and Samruk-Kazyna should "explore the possibility of developing safe and environmentally friendly nuclear energy in Kazakhstan", he said. This should be done "as rationally as possible, without speculation and emotions".

"This issue must also be considered from the point of view of the development of engineering, the formation of a new generation of qualified nuclear engineers," he said. He also instructed the Kazakh government to prepare proposals on the production of "green" hydrogen and hydrogen energy in general.

Kazakhstan has 12% of the world's uranium resources and is the world's largest producer of uranium. A Russian-designed BN-350 sodium-cooled fast reactor operated near Aktau in Kazakhstan for 26 years until 1999, generating electricity and desalinating water. The question of nuclear power in Kazakhstan has been discussed for many years, with both large and small reactors included in various draft energy plans over the last decade.

Samruk Kazyna is a business corporation established in 2008 by presidential decree to improve the national welfare of  Kazakhstan and ensure long-term sustainability. Its sole shareholder of the Kazakh government.

The State of the Nation address can be read here.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News