SARAN, Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan brought online on Wednesday the “SES Saran” solar park, a 100-megawatt (MW) capacity facility that is the largest of its kind in Central Asia.
Located on the outskirts of this central city, located in the Karaganda region of this oil- and gas-rich nation, the power station covers a surface of 164 hectares (405 acres) and consists of around 307,000 solar panels.
Kazakh Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said at the ceremony that the government has ambitious goals in terms of alternative energy (alternatives to fossil fuels).
He noted that the objective is to increase alternative energy’s share of the total energy mix to 3 percent by 2020, 10 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050.
“Sixty renewable energy installations with a total capacity of 531 MW have been built and are operating in Kazakhstan,” Bozumbayev said, adding that an additional 50 renewable energy installations with a total capacity of 2,353 MW will be brought online by 2020.
Karaganda’s governor, Erlan Koshanov, recalled that the project, which involved $137 million in private investment, was presented at EXPO-2017 in Astana (an event whose theme was “Future Energy”) and received the backing of numerous international experts.
Noting that legislative changes were required and mechanisms were put in place to ensure return on investment before the plant was installed, Koshanov said those processes “can serve as a model for replicating the project throughout Kazakhstan.”
A group of international investors financed the project with the participation of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.
Joachim Goldbeck, the president of Goldbeck Solar, one of the investors, said during the ceremony that the installation of the plant was made possible thanks to Kazakhstan’s support.
A total of 400 jobs were created in building the solar park, which has a staff of 20 operators.
The facility outside Saran, home to just over 40,000 inhabitants, will generate enough electricity to meet the needs of roughly 10 similar-sized cities.