The whole world already uses hydropower stations (hereinafter – HPP, HPPs)
as a main sorce of energy while Kazakhstan, possessing one of the most powerful hydro potentials, is only reconstructing its energy production sector.
Notably, the government is doing huge work to increase the number of HPPs in the country, yet there is a number of barriers impeding the development.
The Government is actively considering new opportunities and potential territorial resources to identify new possible land plots for HPPs construction. In general, according to the RoK Hydropower Development Plan for 2020-2030, approved by the Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan on 4 September 2020, it is planned to:
Among the planned HPP projects to be commissioned are the following:
Samruk-Energy JSC is carrying out pre-project works on construction of HPP-29, which is included in the company's long-term development strategy for 2022-2031, with a deadline in 2024. In the long term, reconstruction and modernisation of the HPPs cascade in Almaty region is required, since the existing HPPs have been in operation since 1943. This project will allow efficient use of hydrotechnical resources on the Bolshaya Almatinka River by increasing power generation at the reconstructed HPP-1 and HPP-2.
As part of the development of balancing generation and hydropower in the country’s south, Samruk-Energy plans to build a 40 MW counter-regulating Kerbulak HPP on the Ili River in addition to reconstructing Almaty TPP-3, with the ability to provide shunting mode.5 The plant will increase the regulating capacity of the Kapshagay HPP up to 300 MW.
Kazakhstan needs to take more active steps to attract foreign investment, improve legislative regulation, and provide economical support to HPP projects.
Clause 1-1 of the article 51 in the Forest Code, states that the transfer of forestry fund lands to lands of other categories for purposes not related to forestry is allowed only in exceptional cases. The article's exhaustive list of possible cases does not provide for the HPPs construction and mentions only the construction of "power lines". Thus, the Forest Code completely excludes the possibility of withdrawing forest fund land for HPP construction.
In order to solve this problem and develop the hydropower sector, Kazakhstan's legislation needs to be amended. It is recommended to make an addition to clause 1-1 of Article 51 of the Forest Code by including the construction of HPPs in the list of cases allowing the state forestry fund land transfer to the land of other categories for purposes not related to forestry. It is also recommended to make relevant amendments to the Rules for Transfer from Category of Forestry Fund Lands to Lands of Other Categories for Purposes Not Related to Forest Management, approved by Order of the Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan, dated 28 January 2015 No. 18-02/45.
The current version of the Article 23 of the Law on Specially Protected Natural Areas does not allow the transfer of lands of specially protected natural areas to reserve lands for the construction of HPPs. An exception is only for the construction and operation of water management structures of particular strategic importance (the list of such structures is approved by a separate Government resolution), in the absence of other options for their possible location and only those land plots on which a regime of limited economic activity is established. The overwhelming majority of planned HPP projects do not meet these criteria, and the conversion of protected area land to reserve land for HPP construction is exceptionally difficult for investors 10.
To remove this legal barrier it is recommended to introduce amendments to Article 23 of the Law on Specially Protected Natural Areas, which would allow transferring specially protected natural areas to HPPs construction with minimum environmental impact (subject to their type and capacity) and the Rules for Transferring Land of Specially Protected Natural Areas to Reserve Land and Transferring Reserve Land Back to Land of Specially Protected Natural Areas, approved by the Resolution of Kazakhstan Government dated 17 February 2009 No. 172.