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Resource Assessment for Green Hydrogen Production in Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan has long been regarded as a major exporter of fossil fuel energy. As the global energy sector is undergoing an unprecedented transition to low-carbon solutions, new emerging energy technologies, such as hydrogen production, require more different resource bases than present energy technologies. Kazakhstan needs to consider whether it has enough resources to stay competitive in energy markets undergoing an energy transition. Green hydrogen can be made from water electrolysis powered by low-carbon electricity sources such as wind turbines and solar panels. We provided the first resource assessment for green hydrogen production in Kazakhstan by focusing on three essential resources: water, renewable electricity, and critical raw materials. Our estimations showed that with the current plan of Kazakhstan to keep its water budget constant in the future, producing 2–10 Mt green hydrogen would require reducing the water use of industry in Kazakhstan by 0.6–3% or 0.036–0.18 km3/year. This could be implemented by increasing the share of renewables in electricity generation and phasing out some of the water- and carbon-intensive industries. Renewable electricity potential in South and West Kazakhstan is sufficient to run electrolyzers up to 5700 and 1600 h/year for wind turbines and solar panels, respectively. In our base case scenario, 5 Mt green hydrogen production would require 50 GW solar and 67 GW wind capacity, considering Kazakhstan's wind and solar capacity factors. This could convert into 28,652 tons of nickel, 15,832 tons of titanium, and many other critical raw materials. Although our estimations for critical raw materials were based on limited geological data, Kazakhstan has access to the most critical raw materials to support original equipment manufacturers of low-carbon technologies in Kazakhstan and other countries. As new geologic exploration kicks off in Kazakhstan, it is expected that more deposits of critical raw materials will be discovered to respond to their potential future needs for green hydrogen production.

Funding source: The research was supported by the Research Grants of Nazarbayev University (091019CRP2106 and 021220FD1051
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics

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