Almaty Electric Power Plants JSC meets its decade with dignity: in September, a new powerful boiler unit meeting environmental standards was launched, and in mid-November, the company fulfilled its annual energy production plan ahead of schedule.

Almaty Electric Power Plants JSC meets its decade with dignity: in September, a new powerful boiler unit meeting environmental standards was launched, and in mid-November, the company fulfilled its annual energy production plan ahead of schedule.

For consumers of heat and energy, both events mean a comfortable life, all equipped with electrical appliances. For power engineers, it is work in strict accordance with the regime, schedules, plans, since the market does not cancel strict planning, forecasting and work ahead of schedule. At least – in the energy sector.

Modernization course

On the eve of the quarter-century anniversary of the country's Independence, as well as on the eve of the professional holiday of power engineers, we will talk about these important events for the company, as well as the results of the outgoing year with the Chairman of the Board of JSC "Almaty Power Stations" Nurlan Mukhamed-Rakhimov. Moreover, there is another reason – the company celebrates its tenth anniversary in the status of a joint–stock company - a subsidiary of JSC "Samruk-Energo".

– Nurlan Taufikovich, AlES is not a homogeneous asset. Its oldest facility, the first CHP, is 81 years old. There are younger objects, but in general all assets are experienced. In its history, the company has gone through several organizational and legal forms: from purely state to completely private, with foreign participation; from municipal to JSC with one hundred percent state participation. Each period was marked by its own events and problems. And what was characteristic of the current decade?

– In short, it can be described in three words – a significant investment program. A quarter of a century of independence, the country has absorbed a full cycle of development: from the phase of stagnation and destruction to the phase of stabilization, recovery and economic growth. The same processes were going on in the energy sector. And it is clear that if a decision had not been made ten years ago on the formation of JSC AlES, neither the city nor private owners would have been able to fully restore the energy complex, re-equip it, modernize it taking into account modern environmental requirements, and make a reserve for the future. Not because they didn't want to, but because such investments could only be made by the state or with its support – through national development institutions.

The high wear and tear of the stations' equipment – up to 80% in some cases – required immediate measures. Therefore, an investment strategy was developed, its step–by-step implementation was outlined, investments were identified - even before the onset of the global financial crisis. And in 2009, in accordance with the Agreement "On Investment Obligations" signed with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, we launched the modernization process. That year, measures were carried out to replace, update, reconstruct, re-equip existing assets, new construction and maintain the current level of production in the amount of 5.7 billion tenge.
In 2010-2011, the volume of work already amounted to 16.3 billion tenge. And although the situation in the economy was still difficult, we invested up to 10 billion tenge annually. At the end of 2015, this indicator amounted to 16.3 billion tenge. And today, despite the fact that we still have big plans to re–equip our production facilities, the indicators of 2016 are the result of many years of work to modernize the entire production complex. At the same time, the work was carried out in a non-stop mode: no one removed the company's obligations to provide the city and the region with uninterrupted electricity and heat.

Milestone events

– Such a milestone event was the launch of boiler unit N8 for the company as part of the reconstruction and expansion of the Almaty CHP-2. What did it give the city?
– The city has grown and needed an increase in capacity for a long time. In addition, the construction of the Universiade 2017 facilities was actively underway, the industrial zone was developing, and housing construction was active under the Affordable Housing 2020 program. Both we and the city authorities understood that the existing capacities of the ALES would soon be insufficient. Therefore, since 2011 we have started the construction of the boiler unit – the new largest facility of the station, having invested 25.7 billion tenge in it. Up to 600 people were involved in the construction and commissioning works alone. Our task was to work ahead of the curve by handing over the facility before the opening of the Universiade and the settlement of new neighborhoods.
With the commissioning of the boiler unit, the thermal capacity of CHP-2 increased by 20% – from 1,176 to 1,414 Gcal/hour. Now the station can produce an additional 450 million kWh of electricity per year. This, for simplicity of understanding, means that the boiler unit will provide heat and light to 2,000 nine–storey houses, or 200 thousand people - the average number of inhabitants of the city.

I can say that there have not been similar industrial construction projects in the city for almost three decades. At the same time, the new boiler meets the requirements of the Environmental Code of the Republic. The level of emissions is 15-20% less than that of old boilers. Commissioning of the boiler is a good start for the future. Since the increase in the installed thermal capacity of the station will allow, after the commissioning of the heating main from CHP-2 to the Central Thermal Distribution Point of the Western Thermal Complex, to increase the annual output of thermal energy by 500 thousand Gcal. An increase in heat release will lead to the possibility of achieving and carrying for a long time in winter the nominal electrical power of 510 MW.

Under the close attention of environmentalists

– If you are talking about ecology, tell me how things are with the rest of the objects, smoke over the city?

– The strategic objectives of the AlES activity are not only to improve the quality and reliability of energy supply, but also to ensure the environmental safety of the city and the Almaty region in the long term. At the same time, we are one of the few industrial facilities that is under the close attention of environmentalists, the public, city authorities, and regulatory authorities. Constant measurements are made, samples of air, water and soil quality are taken. As evidenced by objective indicators, the company complies with environmental legislation. Thus, according to Kazhydromet, stationary sources emit about 20% of harmful substances into the air, of which 10% account for CHP.

– You mentioned billion-dollar investments in the modernization of production. And what part of the funds is directed to environmental projects? 

– Everything is interconnected here. But I can say that almost all the commitments that we have undertaken to improve the environmental situation in the city have already been implemented. They were laid down in the AlES investment obligations back in 2008. Gradually, we reconstructed the ash-collecting units of the three thermal power plants and installed a new generation of emulsifiers. This made it possible to increase ash capture from 95-96% to 99.2-99.5%, which led to a significant reduction in solid emissions at all CHP plants.
The installation of low-emission burners at all heating stations and boiler houses allowed to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides at the boiler units of the stations and led to a reduction in the amount of emissions of nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere.
Our specialists together with the KazNIPIEnergoprom Institute have found an eco-friendly and beautiful solution to the issue of ash waste storage. This combined system was developed specifically for AlES. In short, the bottom line: a green lawn is formed on the site of the ash storage facility after passing a full cycle of reclamation in 3-4 years. The stored, processed waste in the future will be considered as man-made mineral deposits and further processed. For example, materials for the construction or metallurgical industry can be produced. We are searching in this direction. Now there are a lot of companies that want to process ash slags, but there are few technologies. Therefore, so far no one has taken up this matter thoroughly.

Green and not unprofitable

– There are two eco–friendly facilities in the structure of the ALES - Cascade HPP and Kapshagai HPP. What is the share of their "green" energy in the total amount of electricity generated by the company?

– The share of these stations may not be large, but it was these assets in the outgoing year that provided the company with early fulfillment of the annual plan for electricity generation by mid-November. The achievement of the annual indicator – 4.9 billion kWh – was due to the over-fulfillment of the plan by the Kapshagai hydroelectric power plants by 110% and the Cascade of hydroelectric power plants by 10%. Favorable weather conditions – heavy precipitation and the company's technical policy aimed at reconstruction, modernization and expansion of production facilities contributed to the increase in productivity. So, in 2014, the clearing of the riverbed Or below the Kapshagai hydroelectric dam was completed. This allowed us to eliminate the limitations of electrical power, and currently a hydroelectric power plant, if necessary and with sufficient water flow, can carry an installed electric capacity of 364 MW for a long time.

– Was the outgoing year generally successful for the company?

– Yes, 2016 can be called a successful year, relative to the forecasts that were made for this year. JSC for the first time approved a budget with a loss for 2016. The forecast of the loss at the end of 2016 was due to several factors.