Kazakhstan’s ‘landmark’ utility-scale PV project gets EBRD project finance loans

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The construction of Kazakhstan‘s first utility-scale PV installation, which has already begun, will be supported with around US$78 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

An Anglo-Kazakh joint venture (JV) will build Burnoye Solar-1, the country’s first privately-owned renewable generator, with Britain’s United Green Energy Ltd and Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund collaborating on the project through its investment arm Samruk Kazyna Invest LLP.

Work began on the 50MW plant in 2014 when tariffs were introduced as part of Kazakhstan’s Renewables Law, which was created in part to encourage inward investment. EBRD will invest around 70 million (US$78 million) in the project along with the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) of the international Climate Investment Fund. CTF will lend around US$15.4 million. The project is being funded through a non-recourse project finance structure.

Located in south Kazakshtan’s Zambyl region, the project is close to the Western Europe-Western China highway, the grand infrastructure project currently underway. The area was described by an EBRD release as “energy deficient”. According to EBRD, the 192,000 PV panels used for Burnoyes Solar-1 will be European manufactured, although the bank did not publicly state who the maker was.

Albrecht Frischenschlager, member of the supervisory board for Burnoyes Solar-1, said that climatic conditions in the region, while “harsh” are “perfect” for solar, combining strong sunshine with strong winds that can keep panels cooled.

Established in 1991 to “create a new post-Cold War era in central and eastern Europe” by fostering “market-oriented economies,” EBRD has already invested in over 180 projects in Kazakhstan, including over US$700 million already this year from a total of more than US$7 billion, with another US$400 million already earmarked for various projects. Last weekend, EBRD received an award from the American Chamber of Commerce for its support of Yereymentau Wind Park, the country’s first wind farm to operate under the feed-in tariff.

President of the EBRD, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, said the project was a “landmark” for a number of reasons.

“It is a first in many crucial categories. It will be the first commercial-scale solar park in Kazakhstan. It will be the first privately owned renewable energy generator in Kazakhstan. And it is the first use of a new project finance structure that will open the door to more private investment in renewables in the future,” Chakrabarti said.

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