Another spring, another new start or Nauryz, a ‘new day’, as it is called in Kazakhstan. The celebrations for the end of the long, cold winter always have special significance in Central Asia, where the steppe is blown by fierce winds and temperatures drop to -30 for months on end.
In Pavlodar, home to 400,000 people in Kazakhstan’s North East, the local district heating provider Pavlodar Heat Networks LLP, privately owned by Caepco, is now using the warmer weather to make next winter less harsh on consumers and on the environment by improving the system’s energy efficiency.
The city flourished in the 1970s as a Soviet industrial centre. Most building blocks date back to that period, when workers flocked to the city for jobs at large industrial enterprises. And so does the district system that supplies heat to every home.
The problem is that – as in the rest of Kazakhstan – there has been little investment into the maintenance of these heating systems in the past 40 years.
The result is huge energy waste and heat losses, with financial consequences for suppliers and consumers – and, of course, the environmental damage from increased CO2 emissions as a consequence of the combustion of coal for heating purposes.
Caepco’s investment in the modernisation of district heating networks is backed by an EBRD loan of US$30 million and further supported by US$10 million in co-financing from the Clean Technology Fund, part of the Climate Investment Funds.
A team of 15 guided by two engineers were busy a few week ago replacing large pipes in a pit on the margins of a major road. With temperatures rising, the speed of the works was picking up – these operations can only be carried out with temperatures above -15 degrees.
“Thanks to this investment we are also using modern insulation,” explained Vadim Kovalchuk, Chief Engineer at Pavlodar Heat Networks LLP. ”The new insulation will halve the heat losses.”
His father and his grandfather before him worked in this company. He recalled playing as a child at the same pumping station which is now being refurbished.
“I am delighted to be able to continue my family’s mission to keep people’s homes warm”, he added.
The project will overall benefit a total of 850,000 people and local businesses covering two other major cities, Ekibastuz and Petropavlosk.
One of those who will enjoy the benefits of the new system is Arman Hamitov, a young resident who recently moved with his family into a new building block where Pavlodar Heat Networks LLP has already installed new metering and an automatic heating unit.
“I am glad the heating system in town is being improved because I have two children and I want our home to be warm, cosy and comfortable” he said.
“By cutting CO2 emissions by 30,000 tonnes a year – comparable to the emissions of approximately 13,000 cars- the project will also help alleviate the environmental impact of heat production”, said Sandugash Beisenbekova, an Associate Banker based in the EBRD’s Resident Office in Almaty.
This is the EBRD’s first project in the field of district heating systems in Central Asia. The EBRD’s Sustainable Energy Initiative addresses the global challenge of tackling energy efficiency and climate change in more than a quarter of its investments.
It represents one more step towards more sustainable use of energy and is another sign of renovation that – like the return of spring a few weeks ago – brings with it the promise of a better future.
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