Central Asian countries may soon face growing imbalance in gas supply and demand - WB

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The World Bank published a new report on February 22 titled "Achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2060: Sustainable Energy Future for the Countries of Europe and Central Asia," according to information from the World Bank, Gazeta.uz reports.

The report outlines pathways for transitioning to renewable energy and overcoming dependence on fossil fuels for European and Central Asian countries with emerging markets.

It presents an analysis that can assist the governments of developing countries in the region in determining priority measures for economic policy and investments needed to transition energy systems to carbon-free fuels by 2060 to maintain the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.

Central Asia is a significant net gas exporter, primarily to China. The rapidly growing demand in this subregion, combined with stagnating gas production (especially in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan), limits its ability to simultaneously meet export commitments to China and satisfy peak domestic demand in the winter.

"The 'Gas Alliance,' proposed by Russia to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, could improve the balance of natural gas demand and supply in Central Asia. However, there are uncertainties related to the poor condition of the pipeline infrastructure in these countries, built during the Soviet era, and the reliability of Russian gas supplies," noted the World Bank.

Replacing coal in Kazakhstan, eliminating the emerging gap between demand and supply in Uzbekistan, and meeting the growing demand across Central Asia can be achieved through the activation of regional gas trade in Central Asia and increasing gas imports from Turkmenistan, the report states.

"Our report comes out at a very alarming time - after the largest gas market crisis in history and a frightening rise in global temperatures, exceeding historical annual averages by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius," noted Charles Cormier, the World Bank's Regional Director for Infrastructure in the Europe and Central Asia region.

"The analysis conducted identifies the least costly ways for European and Central Asian countries to meet the global commitments adopted at COP-28. As our modeling results show, the share of environmentally friendly energy sources in this region can increase from 9% today to 75% by 2060. This will only be possible if countries make firm commitments and implement targeted measures and investments," he emphasized.

Only nine countries in the Europe and Central Asia region have set a goal for carbon neutrality, with only five of them—Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, and Romania—planning to achieve it by 2050, and one country, Turkey, by 2053. Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have set a more distant target of 2060. Another 14 countries have not yet made national commitments to achieve net-zero emissions.

According to the report, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, the energy systems across the Europe and Central Asia region must achieve zero emissions by 2040, commercial buildings by 2050, and residential homes by 2055. Industries and transportation, where reducing emissions is more challenging, may need to use carbon removal technologies (such as carbon capture and storage) even by 2060.

According to World Bank analysts, gas consumption in the Europe and Central Asia region may have already peaked, and according to the World Bank's scenario for achieving carbon neutrality, it may decrease to 16% of the total primary energy supply. Meanwhile, oil consumption is likely to peak by 2035.

In conclusion, the authors of the report state that the region can overcome coal dependence and gradually phase out 90% of lignite-fired coal power plants by 2040. However, widespread non-targeted subsidies hinder the abandonment of coal use.

"The retention of subsidies for fossil fuels - and in some countries of this region, they are among the largest in the world - can have a negative impact on the energy security of the region, hinder the development of a sustainable energy future, encourage wasteful energy consumption, and divert funds needed for crucial investments in improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources," the report notes.

To achieve the "Carbon Neutrality-2060" scenario, investments of $4.7 trillion are required (3.9% of the regional GDP), with the majority of these funds expected to come from the private sector. Compared to the trajectory that involves the use of fossil fuels, the additional investment needed for the energy transition is $872 billion.

"The World Bank published a new report on February 22 titled 'Achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2060: Sustainable Energy Future for the Countries of Europe and Central Asia,' according to information from the World Bank, as reported by Gazeta.uz.

The report outlines pathways for transitioning to renewable energy and overcoming dependence on fossil fuels for European and Central Asian countries with emerging markets.

It includes an analysis that can assist the governments of developing countries in the region in determining priority measures for economic policies and investments needed to shift energy systems to carbon-free sources by 2060, to maintain the average global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.

Central Asia is a major net exporter of gas, primarily to China. The rapid growth in demand across this subregion, combined with stagnating gas production, especially in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, limits its ability to simultaneously meet export commitments to China and satisfy peak domestic demand in the winter.

"The 'Gas Union,' proposed by Russia to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, could improve the balance of natural gas demand and supply in Central Asia. However, there are uncertainties related to the poor condition of the pipeline infrastructure in these countries, built during the Soviet era, and the reliability of Russian gas supplies," noted the World Bank.

Replacing coal in Kazakhstan, eliminating the impending gap between demand and supply in Uzbekistan, and meeting the growing demand across Central Asia can be achieved through the activation of regional gas trade in Central Asia and increasing gas imports from Turkmenistan, as stated in the report.

"Our report comes out at a very critical time—after the largest-ever crisis in gas markets and alarming global temperature increases exceeding historical annual averages by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius," emphasized Charles Cormier, the World Bank's Regional Director for Infrastructure in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region.

"The analysis conducted identifies the least costly ways for European and Central Asian countries to fulfill the global commitments adopted at COP-28. As our modeling results show, the share of clean energy sources in this region can increase from 9% today to 75% by 2060. This will only be possible if countries make firm commitments and implement targeted measures and investments," he underscored.

Only nine ECA countries have set the goal of achieving carbon neutrality, with only five of them—Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, and Romania—planning to achieve it by 2050, and one country, Turkey, by 2053. Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have set a more distant target of 2060. Another 14 countries have not yet committed to achieving a zero-emission balance.

As highlighted in the report, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, energy systems across the entire ECA region must achieve zero emissions by 2040, commercial buildings by 2050, and residential homes by 2055. Industries and transportation, where emission reduction is more challenging, may need to use carbon removal technologies (such as carbon capture and storage) for decarbonization, possibly even by 2060.

According to World Bank analysts, gas consumption in the ECA region may have already peaked, and according to the World Bank's scenario for achieving carbon neutrality, it could decrease to 16% of the total primary energy supply. Meanwhile, oil consumption is likely to peak by 2035.

In the report's conclusion, the authors state that maintaining subsidies for fossil fuels—considered some of the largest in the world in certain countries of this region—may negatively impact the region's energy security, hinder the development of a sustainable energy future, encourage wasteful energy consumption, and divert funds needed for crucial investments in energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy.

To achieve the 'Carbon Neutrality-2060' scenario, investments of $4.7 trillion (3.9% of the regional GDP) are required, with the private sector expected to contribute the majority of these funds. Compared to the trajectory involving the use of fossil fuels, the additional investment needed for the energy transition is $872 billion.

"The region has rich natural resources, and each country has opportunities for significant investments in their own renewable energy sources—be it solar, wind, geothermal energy, bioenergy, or 'green' hydrogen—which will contribute to increased energy security. The report not only outlines the path to realizing this concept but also demonstrates the tangible benefits of the energy transition and its potential to create jobs," noted Stephanie Gill, Manager of the Global Energy and Extractives Practice Department at the World Bank and Head of the Europe and Central Asia region group.

According to the report's estimates, amid the ongoing global reduction in jobs related to fossil fuels, the energy transition could provide significant employment growth in the renewable energy sector for this region: from approximately 200,000 jobs currently to over 900,000 jobs by 2040 (mainly related to equipment installation, operation, and technical maintenance).

The report emphasizes the region's untapped potential in solar and wind energy generation. Despite the share of renewable energy sources increasing from 2.4% in 2010 to slightly over 10% today, they are still not used intensively enough.

Expanding the use of these resources is considered by the World Bank as a key strategy for diversifying the energy balance structure and increasing the security and resilience of energy systems.

"With subsidies [for renewable energy sources] and increasing carbon emission tariffs, significant progress in the development of new and less explored technologies, such as hydrogen production and utilization, and carbon removal, needs to be achieved," the report suggests.

The report 'Achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2060' is the first in a series of publications by the World Bank aimed at assisting countries in the Europe and Central Asia region in identifying alternatives at the initial stage of the energy transition. Subsequent reports will provide more detailed information on how countries can overcome barriers hindering the scale-up of renewable energy adoption and an analysis of the economic benefits of the energy transition.

The report covers countries with emerging markets and developing economies in the Europe and Central Asia region: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

CentralasianLIGHT.org

February 25, 2024