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Cryptocurrency miners and decarbonization policy make Kazakhstan think about the construction of a nuclear power plant

The ban in China of cryptocurrencies and related activities has led to a massive migration of mining farms to Kazakhstan, which has caused unprecedented pressure on local energy networks. In this light, the country's leadership began to think about building a nuclear power plant - 70% of local power plants run on coal and the general course towards decarbonization will somehow force them to look for new, environmentally friendly sources of energ.

Source: wostemme / pixabay.com

It is expected that the nuclear power plant will not only provide energy for the needs of the country itself that have grown due to cryptomining, but also sell electricity to neighboring states. According to Energy Minister Magzum Mirzagaliyev, the construction of a station in the village of Ulken of the Alma-Ata region or in the city of Kurchatov located in the East Kazakhstan region is being considered.

“We have now made a balance of production and consumption of electricity until 2035. We clearly see the need to build a nuclear power plant in order to provide electricity to our population and our economy, ” TASS quotes the minister as saying. According to him, the construction of any nuclear power plant takes years, on average up to 10 years.

According to Forbes, in the summer of this year, an energy deficit emerged in Kazakhstan due to the massive migration of cryptocurrency miners from China, where the production and circulation of such assets was outlawed. As a result, Kazakhstani grids began to buy electricity from Russia. According to Mirzagaliyev, Kazakhstan intends to purchase electricity from its northern neighbor in 2022 in volumes of 500-1000 MW daily, and imports will be carried out in the next 4-5 years. Forbes reports that Russian power engineers do not welcome such purchases, since the stability of the energy infrastructure of neighbors has to be maintained through unscheduled switching on of capacities.

The reason for the possible construction of a nuclear power plant may be not only the influx of miners, but also the course taken by Kazakhstan for decarbonization - the transition to the use of energy production facilities with low carbon emissions. At the same time, according to some estimates, in 2021 the electricity deficit in the country will amount to 1.7 billion kWh, and by 2030 it will increase by 25-30 billion kWh.

It is known that plans for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan were already discussed at least 10 years ago - there were corresponding negotiations with Rosatom. Later, these plans were abandoned, and in 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to return to the discussion of the construction issue again. It is known that in September of this year, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, instructed within the next year to assess "the possibility of developing safe nuclear energy in the republic" , and a few days ago the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of Kazakhstan reported that negotiations with Rosatom on the construction of nuclear power plants are resumed.

Kazakhstan is one of the leaders in the production and volume of uranium reserves in the world. In addition, the country has a large personnel potential and experience in operating nuclear facilities, partially preserved from the times of the USSR. For example, the nuclear power plant in Aktau operated from 1973 to 1999.

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