Attending the COP27 in Egypt, on Monday, 7 November, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Alikhan Smailov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a strategic partnership between the EU and Kazakhstan on the supply of green hydrogen, raw materials for clean energy and batteries.
1. Strategic partnership
The agreement aims to ensure the development of a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials and refined materials. It also aims to develop renewable hydrogen and battery value chains, to boost the green and digital transformation of both sides’ economies.
A secure and sustainable supply of raw materials, refined materials and renewable hydrogen is a key layer to help build a new, cleaner foundation for our economies, especially as we move away from our dependency on fossil fuels.Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
“This partnership with Kazakhstan shows Europe’s commitment to work with partner countries on our shared commitments to a greener and more resilient future in line with the Global Gateway Strategy and the objectives of the REPowerEU Plan”, von der Leyen stressed.
The EU and Kazakhstan have committed to develop a Roadmap for 2023-2024, with concrete joint actions agreed within six months of the signature of the Partnership. These actions are to be carried out in close cooperation with relevant industrial and financial stakeholders from the EU Member States and Kazakhstan.
The strategic partnership is centred around three areas of collaboration: closer economic and industrial integration in the strategic value chains of raw materials, batteries and renewable hydrogen; increasing the resilience of raw material, battery and renewable hydrogen supply chains and closer bilateral cooperation on capacity-building, skills and research & innovation.
The signing of the document will create conditions for the establishment of financial and technological cooperation between Kazakhstan and EU industrial alliances.Alikhan Smailov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan
Among the milestones of the roadmap are:
- Identifying joint projects throughout the respective value chains including recycling and attracting private investment.
- Aligning high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.
- Modernisation of mining and refining processes and technologies through the introduction of new technologies and sustainable practices.
- Enhancing the transparency and information on measures related to investment, operations and exports relevant to the scope of this partnership.
- Decarbonisation of the critical raw materials value chain including by using renewable energy and digitalisation.
- Greening and sustainability of mining processes.
- Management of industrial mineral waste and extraction of critical raw materials from them.
2. Critical Raw Materials
Critical Raw Materials are essential for the deployment of technologies like wind turbines (with rare earth magnets), batteries (lithium and cobalt) and semiconductors (polysilicon). Demand for these critical materials is expected to grow by over 1000% just by the end of the decade, so securing them is essential for the success of EU’s transition to renewable energy.
Kazakhstan’s potential for supplying critical raw materials was highlighted during the 35th meeting of the Berlin Eurasian Club by Roman Vakulchuk, a Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affair, who pointed out that Central Asia has a large share of the reserves for minerals used in clean energy production, 90% of which being in Kazakhstan.
3. Green hydrogen
Similarly, batteries are crucial to the energy transition and shift to zero-emissions transport, while renewable hydrogen technology supports the decarbonisation of hard to abate sectors and energy intensive industries.
In the REPowerEU strategy, the Commission set out an objective to produce 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in Europe by 2030 and, at the same time, import another 10 million tonnes. A recent deal signed between Hyrasia One, a subsidiary of the European cleantech Svevind Energy Group, and Kazakhstan ensures one fifth of the expected EU import demand for green hydrogen in 2030.