M-KAT Solar Plant
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD or the Bank) are considering providing financing to the SPV MKAT Green LLP (the Company) for the construction and operation of a 100MWac solar photovoltaic power plant M-KAT (SPP) in Zhambyl Region. The project sponsors are Access Infra Central Asia and Total Eren SA (the Sponsors). The SPP will have 373 113 sun-tracking PV panels, 40 inverters and 30 substations that are connected to the high voltage substation from where a 12km 220kV powerline will run to a transit national network substation. An open switch unit will be constructed at this substation. The plant is expected to generate 229 000 MWh/year for the designed 25 years of the operation
The Project has been assigned by the EBRD the Category B. This environmental and social assessment (ESA) has not identified any issues that would warrant a review of this categorization as no critical environmental and social issues have been identified and impacts are judged to be site specific or short term in nature.
To date the project was in full compliance with the local requirements but lacked archaeological survey of powerline and access road corridors and ORU area. The feasibility study has been approved by the State Technical Expertise and the EIA has been approved by the State Environmental Expertise. To obtain this, approvals had been obtained from various regulatory bodies. Archaeological survey reported no finds. Two public meetings raised no critical questions and approved the project.
The 489ha land plot allocated for a solar power plant, 10m x 3.7km access road and 16m x 11km powerline corridors have been leased for 49 years. An additional 550m long entry from Alga village is being considered. The 30x160m open redistribution unit area has been acquired for ownership. For the powerline route, agreements with 5 land tenants (4 local farms and an Almaty based company) have been achieved through one off payments. Only one farmer has recently developed part of his and the neighbour land (48ha) to grow fodder crops. The other land has not been used or developed by the tenants.
In Kazakhstan, reduction in pastures is the usual impact from a utility-scale solar plant. Here, despite fencing large part of traditionally used by the locals pasture, the impact is considered to be low for 3 main reasons: 1. Only 300ha will be fenced leaving low land with better vegetation out; 2. The fenced area is poorly vegetated grassland that is used only in spring and beginning of summer and 3. The locals consider non-intensive husbandry as hard and risky business with marginal profit and would readily change to a proper job or intensive husbandry with the livestock being kept indoors. The livestock is kept by many in two adjacent villages and in the suburbs of Shu but the numbers are small and increase is only natural.
Worker accommodation is not thought to be an issue as most of the workers are expected to be local and travel to work daily. Impact of the project traffic is thought to be low but with the assumption that the railway will be used for most of the transportation.
The transportation route is subject to proper assessment by a transportation specialist. At this stage it is possible to say that at the route from the west (Aktobe) and the railway spur to the site no obvious obstacles that would need to be altered have been noted and thus the transportation related interruptions in power or water supplies are not envisaged.
The project benefit will be more apparent on the regional level when reduction in energy deficit will allow further economic development, especially for local industries and creation of new jobs. Few jobs will be created for the local unskilled labour but presence of the SPP may lead to knowledge transfer and encouragement of the targeted education among the local school graduates. Indirect benefits are expected to be minimal or none. Communication with the affected parties will be maintained according to the stakeholder engagement plan prepared by the consultant.
Given the need to maintain social dialogue and allow for some benefits from the project to be felt by the local community a Corporate Social Responsibility Program (CSRP) that would include both financial as well as other forms of support is to be agreed with the Alga Public Governance Council and the Rural Area Council. Selection of actions will be restricted by the budget commensurable with the size of the project, absence of overlap with the State programs and their sustainability.
Summary of the project impacts in relation to EBRD Performance Requirements are given below. The suggested impact mitigation measures are expected to reduce risks to acceptable level and ensure that the project is developed and operated in line with the Bank’s Performance Requirements.
M-KAT Solar Plant ESA
M-KAT Solar Plant SEP RU
M-KAT Solar Plant SEP
M-KAT Solar Plant ESAP
M-KAT Solar Plant NTS RU
M-KAT Solar Plant NTS
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