The Moinak hydropower plant located on the Sharyn River is one of the significant sources of electricity accounting for approximately one-fifth of the total energy demands in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan.

It is a high-pressure derivation power plant similar to the Zaramagskaya hydroelectric power station located in North Ossetia.

The 300MW hydroelectric power plant was constructed by the privately-owned company JSC Moynak Hydropower Plant (Moynak HPP) with an estimated investment of approximately $340m (£220m).

The facility commenced commercial operations in 2012, while Samruk-Energy and AK Birlik agreed to acquire 51% and 49% stakes in December 2014. However, Samruk-Energy later became the 100% owner of the project.

The Moinak power plant generated a cumulative total of 6.5 billion kWh of electricity as of November 2019.

Project development background

Although the Moinak hydroelectric project development was started in 1985, it was discontinued in 1992 due to the economic crisis faced by the country.

It was reconsidered to develop the project in light of the increasing energy demands of the country in 2005.

The dam and water discharge facilities of the Bestyubinsk hydro system were completed during 2006 and 2008.

The project generated approximately 503.98 million kWh of electricity during the initial year of commissioning in 2012.

Location and site details

The Moinak hydropower project is located approximately 250km south of Almaty on the Sharyn River in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan. It is located close to the Bestubinsk reservoir between Almaty and the Chinese border.

Moinak hydropower plant details

The Moinak HPP has two bucket-type hydraulic units of 150MW capacity each and operates at a nominal head of 522m.

The dam-diversion scheme for the project comprises a 94m-high rock-fill dam, a 9km-long derivation tunnel, and water discharge structures.

The dam forms a 10km² reservoir called Bestyubinskoye which has a useful water storage capacity of 198 million cubic metres (mcm) and a total storage capacity of 238mcm.

The electricity generated at the hydropower station is being purchased by Almaty Energo Sbyt and the Zhetysu Energo Trade.

Capacity expansion at the power plant

To increase the power generation capacity of Moynak HPP by 102 million kWh, a project to divert Kensu River’s flow was undertaken in 2015. Estimated to cost approximately £4.3m (KZT 2bn), the expansion project is expected to be completed by 2021.

Power transmission

The transmission system for the project was developed in two stages at a cost of £28m ($48m), which was financed via grants from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), a lending arm of the World Bank.

Stage one involved the modernisation and development of a 220kV outdoor switchgear (OSG) for the Moinak HPP, approximately 500m away from the plant site.

In stage two,  a 97.73km-long, 220kV single-circuit overhead transmission line (OHTL) was built from the Moynak HPP to the Shelek substation and a 227.78km-long, 220kV OHTL from the Moynak HPP to Robot substation.

Project financing

The Development Bank of Kazakhstan provided £32m ($50m) while the China Development Bank provided £130m ($200m) for the Moinak hydroelectric power project.

The World Bank approved a £28m ($48m) loan for the Kazakhstan Moinak electricity transmission project in September 2009.

Contractors involved

Andritz delivered two Pelton turbines and a spare runner for the Moinak hydropower facility.

China International Water and Electric (CWE) was appointed as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the project.