6 July 2023
Brussels Energy Club (BREC) organized its inaugural conference on energy security and sustainability in Central Asia on July 4. Held in the Belgian capital, the conference focused on regional and interregional collaboration for a smooth energy transition in Central Asia, one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. The event witnessed participation from the diplomatic missions of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan to the European Union (EU). The conference was skillfully led by BREC Principal Representative Marat Terterov and BREC Director Nadezda Kokotovic.
Energy Transition: Key to Sustainable Growth
Terterov, in his introductory address, highlighted energy as the major catalyst of regional development. He emphasized Central Asia’s shift towards alternative, greener, and more sustainable energy economies, appealing to the global investment community.
Ambassadors from Central Asian states shared their governments’ key priorities and reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing cooperation. Margulan Baimukhan, Kazakh Ambassador to the EU, acknowledged Kazakhstan’s responsibility towards combating climate change, given that their energy sector contributes to 78% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, Kazakhstan has adopted a strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, primarily through energy sector decarbonization.
In late 2022, the EU and Kazakhstan formalized a strategic partnership focusing on raw materials, batteries, and renewable hydrogen, integral to the green transition. Furthermore, a roadmap for 2023-2024 has been drafted to bolster bilateral cooperation in capacity-building, research, and innovations.
Leveraging Renewable Energy: Central Asia’s Potential and Challenges
Ambassadors from other Central Asian countries, too, shared their initiatives and plans towards a sustainable future. Turkmenistan, for instance, has approved an international cooperation roadmap in the field of hydrogen energy for 2022-2023. Uzbekistan, the region’s most populous nation, is planning a transition to green electricity to offset additional gas requirements and prevent emission growth.
Kyrgyzstan’s Ambassador, Aidit Erkin, highlighted the enormous potential of the renewable energy sector in Central Asia, particularly solar and wind power. Central Asia, with its numerous rivers such as the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, presents vast opportunities for hydroelectric power generation.
In light of these developments, BREC Senior Advisor Mehmet Ogutcu discussed the challenge of competing fossil fuels and renewables. He stated that while fossil fuels currently dominate, renewables could potentially gain a larger share in the energy sector with the right policy and efficient financial resources.
Moreover, Kazakh green energy advocate, Nurlan Kapenov, voiced the need for flexible capacity in Kazakhstan’s energy transition. The best solution, according to him, is developing a transnational grid between all Central Asian countries.
Representatives from the European Commission and WindEurope Association shared European experiences in transitioning to green economies, stressing the importance of clear regulatory frameworks, national plans, and investment signals.
Towards a Future of Interregional Cooperation
The BREC conference underlined the importance of regional cooperation in developing clean energy resources and ensuring a smooth energy transition. The sessions deliberated on prospects for new partnerships between Central Asian countries and explored avenues for bolstering interregional cooperation, enhancing the investment climate of the region, and sharing experiences.