Unused Potential

Kazakhstan has huge potential for solar energy development. It records 200 to 250 sunny days per year (and up to 300 in the south-east), and radiant solar energy is estimated to reach an annual 800--1,300kW/sq. m.

"Using solar energy for home-heating purposes is possible anywhere in Kazakhstan, whereas large solar stations can best be located in southern regions and near the Aral Sea," Rakhimov said, adding that aggregate fuel savings through the use of solar energy are compatible with the output of a medium-capacity coal mine.

Kazakhstan is rich in raw materials needed to produce metallurgical silicon, used in the manufacture of solar arrays, he explained. The country's subsoil reserves include 265m tonnes of quartzite and 65m tonnes of high-purity quartz, the basic elements for metallurgical silicon production.