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Development of small hydropower in Kazakhstan - Seed Project

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Supporting the transition of the Republic of Kazakhstan to a "green economy", the share of renewable energy sources (RES) by 2020 should be 3% of the total volume of electricity production: by  10% in 2030 and 50% in 2050. In 2013, state support by the Settlement and Financial Center based on the law supporting RES for the renewable energy sector was launched with a centralized guaranteed purchase of all electricity produced by renewable energy sources at fixed tariffs supplied to the electrical networks of the unified electrical power system of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Further, for 2020, the Department of Energy announced an auction for the purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources, where 50% of the auction is covered by hydropower. Kazakhstan, with more than 39,000 rivers and watercourses, has a high potential for hydropower production. However, most regions of the country are sparsely populated and characterized by predominantly rural areas with larger cities only in the east and south. This causes long transport distances leading to energy transfer losses. In this context, small hydropower (SHP) is a form of attractive power generation. The benefits of SHP projects include the ease of smaller investments compared to larger energy projects, faster build-operation periods that exclude the building of large dams, ensuring local energy production and consumption avoiding transport losses, and provision of local work places. Further, it supports a stable electricity supply to the local population and development of rural areas. However, the social, political, economic, historical, regulatory, and environmental issues have to be considered for the development and deployment of SHP. The aim of this seed project is first to build up capacities between the Kazakh-German University in Almaty (DKU) and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in Switzerland centered on the hydrological potential and utilization of SHP in river basins in Kazakhstan. Capacity building will be used to develop a methodological framework to analyze and explore the potential and sustainable use of SHP focusing on the following objectives: 1) Compilation and analyses of technical, hydrological and environmental data in a spatio-temporal approach using GIS techniques and remote sensing data; 2) Development and application of hydrological modeling at the catchment and local scale to check for water availability, hydropower potential and sustainable use; and 3) Establishment of impact analyses to the use of water resources, environment, electricity sector, regional social development and related legislation relevant for the sustainable use of SHP. The seed project will focus on pilot regions located in the Almaty province (Talgar district, neighborhoods of Tekeli town, Enbekshikazakh district, ile-Alatau State National Natural Park) in Kazakhstan. After development and application of the methodology to analyze and evaluate the potential of SHP to support the utilization and sustainable use of SHP for the pilot regions, the knowledge achieved will be used to develop a comprehensive proposal scaling up results to other regions in Kazakhstan submitted to appropriate funding organizations.