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Kazakhstan recalls the benefits of hydro

After two years of focusing its efforts on a nuclear programme and bartering for crude oil, the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan has rediscovered its hydro power programme.

Kazakhstan has five hydro power stations, but decided to neglect its hydro programme in favour of a plan to build Russian-supplied nuclear stations. Since then, the country’s useable capacity has shrunk from 17GW to 13GW and the cost of imports has risen to US$300M/yr. The nuclear programme has been very slow to get off the ground, and at the request of president Nursultan Nazarbayev further hydro capacity is being considered. Any programme is likely to take the form of construction in the north of the country, where the government relocated to a new capital, Akmola, a year ago.