Recently it became known that Kazakhstan sent an official request to Moscow with a request to organize the supply of electricity as soon as possible. Boris Kovalchuk, Chairman of the Board of Inter RAO, announced this during his report to the Prime Minister.
The main reason for the appeal is the lack of its own generation in the republic, which is caused by a number of circumstances, including the aging of the industrial park, the lagging pace of its modernization and a sharp jump in consumption, caused, among other things, by the mass migration to Kazakhstan of Chinese mining farms, which in their homeland in the most direct sense turned off the switch.
What is happening is very symptomatic and clearly demonstrates several facts.
First, the technological and energy gap that Russia has left in three decades compared to the former Soviet republics. Secondly, that these very republics, including the most Russophobic, voluntarily enter the orbit of Moscow, and not at all after becoming acquainted with the novelties of the domestic military industry.
As for Kazakhstan specifically, the problem with the power supply has been ripening here for a long time. On paper, our southern neighbor, with a hundred and fifty power plants with an actual capacity of just under 20 gigawatts, not only fully covers its own needs, but also supplies electricity for export. In practice, Nur-Sultan began a targeted modernization of its still Soviet energy sector just yesterday, and the re-equipment of thermal and hydroelectric power plants is not a quick and very financially costly process. The first has led to the fact that in the structure of the energy balance the main role is still played by coal, which accounts for the production of half of the heat and up to 70 percent of electricity, and the remainder is equally covered by oil and natural gas.
The second forced Nur-Sultan, whose treasury is simply physically incapable of providing such projects, to attract foreign investors. And if in some cases, like the modernization of the coal station in Karabatan, foreigners were involved only as subcontractors, then at other facilities they had to part with part of the state property. This happened, for example, with the Ust-Kamenogorsk and Shulbinsk hydroelectric power plants, where Kazakhstan was forced to cede not even a part, but one hundred percent of the shares of enterprises to Turkish companies.
In addition, Kazakhstan has another problem of a purely physical and infrastructural nature.
If you take a map of a country and put a diagram of the main power lines on it, you will find something interesting. Kazakh networks of 110-1150 kilovolts are very similar to a tree, where the densest branched “roots” are located in the south in the Almaty region and east towards Shymkent, and in the north on the sides of the capital and Karagandawide spread “crown”, covering Aktobe, Sarbaisky, Akm-ola, northern and eastern areas. That is, in fact, there are two huge energy centers in parallel in the country, which are connected by a thin trunk bridge running from north to south. Both of them, although they are part of a single national system, rather conditionally coordinate their operational activities for the reason that there has long been an unspoken competition between northern and southern Kazakhstan in terms of industrial development, namely, large enterprises are the main consumers of energy.
Naturally, this situation greatly complicates the ab-ility to maneuver capacities and organize flows. If the listed northern regions are connected with Russia thro-ugh seven energy bridges, then the issue of securing the south is quite acute.
It is for this reason that in early September, President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev asked Vladimir Putin to consider the possibility of building the first nuclear power plant in the history of Kazakhstan.
If Nur-Sultan had at its disposal a generating facility of such capacity, it would close many questions at once, would allow starting a green energy transition from coal and preserve its position as an exporter of electricity, especially to the south: to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
There is no other news on the Kazakh nuclear project yet, but rumors circulate in specialized circles that Kazakhstan is entering this winter with a deficit of 800 megawatts. This is partly due to the loss of several generating facilities, put out for planned work, partly – with a sharp jump in consumption. And the latter is due to the fact that Chinese miners rushed into the country en masse, moving their farms here, consuming just a monstrous amount of electricity. After China, in the fight against miners creating an energy shortage in the domestic and sometimes even industrial sector, began to de-energize entire areas of cities, cryptocurrency lovers flocked to neighboring countries. And Kazakhstan has become a new cryptocurrency Mecca.
To understand the scale of the changes that have occurred, we add that over the past year, China’s share in world energy spent on mining fell from 75 to 46 percent, while in Kazakhstan, on the contrary, it has grown sixfold and today it is more than eight percent. Thanks to this leap, the country took third place in the world, behind only China and the United States.
It is not known whether the Kazakh authorities are going to fight mining or, on the contrary, will continue to attract farm owners to the country, but it would be extremely rash for the country’s authorities to allow rolling blackouts.
That is why, in fact, the request for supplies was born, and from it a logical question – can Russia really help?
The answer is simple: it can. At the moment, we have about 50 gigawatts of production capacity in reserve in our country. At one time, as part of the modernization of the domestic energy sector, all these stations and power units were laid as a reserve, which should ensure the growth of industrial production on average by three percent per year. The last two pandemic years canceled all these plans, and the facilities were mothballed. Accordingly, if a need arises, for example, an increase in export flows, they can be put back into operation. It is easy to calculate that Russia is able to cover the entire Kazakh deficit, as they say, there would be enough money.
Speaking of money.
All the same Boris Kov-alchuk reported to the government that Inter RAO, controlled by him, expects an increase in net profit by 90 billion rubles by the end of 2021, or 20 percent compared to the previous year. Such a pleasant dynamics became possible due to the twofold growth of Russian electricity exports and reaching the 21.5 billion kilowatt-hour mark.
Three decades after the collapse of the USSR, electricity from Russia still supports everyday life and situational projects of all sizes in the independent states of the former Soviet bloc. But our country is not building aggressive and expansionist plans to restore the Soviet Union, as the mass media of the collective West repeat, but simply makes big money unplanned and reminds everyone around that it is Russia that is the guarantee of their bright and warm well-being.