Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Renewable energy is at the core of the European Union's (EU) aim under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990.
The EU is determined to become the global leader of renewables.
Let me share a few figures:
In the power market, one third of the EU gross electricity production is generated by renewables.
For some technologies, like wind turbines, EU manufacturers accounted for at least 41% of the new global installed capacity in 2016.
In the area of renewables, 53% of inventions from EU based companies acquire patent protection outside Europe.
It is expected that Europe’s energy import dependence on oil and gas will fall from todays 55% to 20% in 2050 thanks to a primary energy supply that would largely come from renewable energy sources.
Kazakhstan is without doubt the frontrunner in renewables in Central Asia. It has set the ambitious targets of getting from under 1% of its energy from renewable sources in 2018 to 3% by 2020, 30% by 2030 and 50% by 2050. I am pleased to say that the EU through its support to the development of the National Concept for Transition to a Green Economy helped pave the way for this ambition.
In my view, Kazakhstan has a vocation to inspire also other countries in the region.
Through its Investment Facility for Central Asia (IFCA), the EU is working actively with partners such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), to attract the necessary investments for Central Asia’s, and in particular Kazakhstan's, energy transition. It is also a priority in the recently adopted EU strategy for the region.
Due to its important solar and wind potential, already today Kazakhstan attracts many international and European companies. This fact contributes to the overall attractiveness of Kazakhstan as a place to invest.
The EU also welcomes the switch from feed-in tariffs to auctions and applauds the Kazakh authorities' willingness to review and to further improve the auctioning processes.
At the same time, I would like to note that artificially low electricity tariffs, though socially understandable, tend to discourage investments.
In April, the EU hosted a conference on Sustainable Energy in Central Asia. Information exchanged at the conference should help all Central Asian countries to attract foreign companies.
When time comes to take investment decisions, they hope to find a progressive set of legislation and its implementation, along with regulatory stability and predictability.
We also see recent positive changes in setting concrete renewable targets, financial support measures and legislative changes setting the right incentives for investments in additional renewable energy generation capacity.
Concrete support for project implementation is needed at this stage. There are many challenges linked to construction permits, transportation issues, renewables integration to the grid and need for further standardisation and quality checks on investments across Central Asia.
This support can include policy advice, technical and industrial expertise, and leveraging on the technical leadership of European companies.
Considerable amounts of financial resources and technical assistance have already been made available via loans from EBRD and EIB. Under EBRD's 2016 framework agreement with Kazakhstan for renewables projects, seven solar power projects amounting to a total investment of some EUR 200 million have been approved. This comes in addition to the country’s first large-scale wind power projects supported with loans from EBRD, the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), and national wealth funds like Samruk Kazyna, were undertaken in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Back in Brussels, we are currently designing a programme on Sustainable Energy Connectivity which will build on the INOGATE and the more recent EU4Energy programmes. Interconnectivity and renewables will play a major role in the next programme.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would also like to recall that the EU and Kazakhstan are both Contracting Parties to the Energy Charter Treaty.
We are currently entering the important process of its Modernisation.
We very much appreciate the commitment of Kazakhstan to the Energy Charter and value our cooperation in this important forum.
I would like to conclude that the EU is and remains at your side to push for a sound and just energy transition both in the EU and in Central Asia.