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On-grid PV Opportunities in University Campuses: A case study at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan


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The universities around the world are taking every day a more decisive role in fighting global warming. Indeed,
many campuses are not only teaching established and disrupting clean energy technologies, but also are practicing
their lectures. For example, the University of Arizona, USA, leads the campuses with 28 MW of installed On-Grid
PV systems ( Furthermore,
campuses of emerging universities, as Nazarbayev University (NU), located in Astana, Kazakhstan, which is
developing with the firm aim to become a leader world class research university in the heart of Eurasia, are taking
this commitment as well. Additionally, being Kazakhstan the host of EXPO-2017 which has the motto: ¨Future
Energy¨, it is natural to evaluate if NU campus would be a good candidate to support and exhibit, with demonstrated
technical and economic advantages, its own On-Grid PV in-campus system. Therefore, in this investigation, a
feasibility study of installing PV panels on the rooftop of School of Engineering at NU is carried out. A 24 kWp rooftop
PV installation with a 14.7% capacity factor, capable to export 31 MWh of electricity to the grid per year, is assumed
to be the system for the purpose of this analysis. The financial analysis has a horizon of 20-year lifetime and 25%
debt ratio financed at 15% interest over 20 years. Selection of appropriate equipment and calculation of financial
outcomes under three different scenarios or policy options are presented. The policies or scenarios corresponded
to having or not government grants (GG) and having attractive Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) rates in order to determine their
financial benefits. The GG scenario was stretched up to consider 30% of the total project cost and FIT was varied
from current offered FIT rate by KEGOC (Kazakhstan utility company) of 36,410 KZT/MWh to a more attractive rate
of 70,000 KZT/MWh. Results demonstrate that current scenario of FIT is marginally favorable (IRR on Equity: 15.1%,
Benefit-Cost Ratio: 1.37, Equity Payback: 8.8 years), while the 30% of incentives on top of current FIT moderatedly
improves the benefits of the project (IRR on Equity: 20.9%, Benefit-Cost Ratio: 1.47, Equity Payback: 7.2 years).
Nevertheless, upgrading current FIT to 70,000 KZT/MWh, even without incentives, proved to be enough to
dramatically improve the outcome of the project for investors (IRR-Equity > 28%, Equity Payback of 5 years and
Benefit-Cost ratio > 3.6), demonstrating that with a subtle change in policies, Nazarbayev University as many other
campuses in the country, may easily justify the investment in their On-Grid PV systems and therefore, become part
of the “green” universities in the world with direct contribution to tackle climate change.

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On-grid PV Opportunities in University Campuses: A case study at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan

  1. 1. On-Grid PV Opportunities in University Campuses: A Case Study at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan AITKULOV, Daniyar ASSYLOVA, Zhuldyz SUANBEKOVA, Elnara ROJAS-SOLORZANO, Luis Split-Croatia May 14-17, 2017
  2. 2. Content Introduction 2 Introduction Related Work Assessment Methodology (LCCA) Feasibility Analysis Scenario I Scenario II Scenario III LCCA Initial Costs Annual Costs Periodic Costs Conclusions
  3. 3. Introduction Related work 3 Total capacity: 28 MW Aims to: 545 MWh/year by 2017 Many university campuses around the world are installing PV systems in their premises as fully operative projects to demonstrate their commitment with current environmental issues using viable technologies. Substantial encouragement coming from the government: US Renewable Energy Incentive Program that helps to cut up to half the cost of the solar system. Total capacity: 23.6 MW Total capacity: 17.4 MW
  4. 4. Introduction Related work 4 System aims to generate 10% of total Campus demand. Expected output: 240 MWh/year RE incentives program initiated by government of Malaysia State University of New Jersey The total capacity of 17,417 kW Many projects ongoing to implement mid-size photovoltaic plants integrated into main university buildings to “teach by example”. • Gained experience is valuable in further analysis and future projects around the world. • What about Nazarbayev University? Is it viable?
  5. 5. Introduction 5 Nazarbayev University: Astana-Kazakhstan • Founded: June 2010 in the “heart of Eurasia”. • Research university aiming to develop as a prestigious world-class university combining education, research and innovation. • 3268 students. • Academic Excellence: Integration of education and research in a common ecosystem. • Clean Energy Technologies: one Strategic Research and Technology area. • Kazakhstan EXPO-2017: “Future Energy” Nazarbayev University is a suitable candidate
  6. 6. Introduction 6 Economic- technical evaluation of the project Natural resources assessment Technology selection Life Cycle Cost Analysis on Proposed Case vs. Base Case Base case: Grid electricity (72% from coal-fired power plants)* Proposed case: On-grid PV FIT / On-grid PV FIT + Grant / On-Grid PV FIT++ Assessment Methodology/LCCA Assessment Methodology (LCCA) RETScreen 4.0 platform (*)
  7. 7. Introduction 7 Assessment Methodology (LCCA)/ Natural Resources Assessment • 87.5% electricity from fossil fuels, 12.3% hydro and 0.2% others. 72% of electricity from coal-fired power plants. • Solar energy is abundant. 2200-3000 sunny hours per year. • 6x50MW solar plants in construction in sourthern region Zhambyl 2016-17. • 1300-1800kWh/m2/year solar insolation. source: Based on REEEP Policy Database
  8. 8. Location Engineering Block 6 Deployment Ground location was discarded because of ongoing construction an potential uncontrolled shadowing. Accessibility issues Roof offers difficulties for maintenance work. Where in NU campus is it possible to install PV? 8 Block 8 Block 6 Block 4 Block 2 Close up of Block 6 Introduction Assessment Methodology (LCCA)/ Technology Selection
  9. 9. 9 Parameters for energy model Technical specifications of PV panels (as extracted from RETScreen) PV Capacity 24 kWp Solar tracking mode Fixed Slope 30 ° Azimuth 0 ° Electricity Export Rate (FIT) (KZT/MWh) 36,410 Capacity Factor 14.7% Astana Solar PV Panels KZ PV 230M60, efficiency: 12.4%, 100 units, total 24 kWp on 194 m2 Introduction Assessment Methodology (LCCA)/ Technology Selection
  10. 10. Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) Initial costs 10 Contract negotiations, permits & approvals, site survey & land rights, GHG validation & registration, project financing, legal & accounting. Free consulting from NU. Development Spare parts cost (30 % percentage of the total equipment cost): 3,312,000 KZT. Thus, total CAPEX = 16,469,200 KZT. Contingencies = 1,497,200 KZT. Balance of system & miscellaneous “Astana Solar” LLP manufactures PV in Kazakhstan Feasibility study PV panels by “Astana Solar” using Kazakhstani silicon. “KazPV” LLP (1kWp ≈ 315,000 KZT). Power system Low-maintenance PV system typically require little maintenance with lifetime of 25 years Annual costs Support to be provided by NU. Additional expenses of 200,000 KZT. Engineering Inverter lifecycle = 10 years Periodic costs  24 kWp PV array: 7,560,000 KZT
  11. 11. 11 Current FIT in Kazakhstan: 36,410 KZT/MWh Scenario I Scenario II Scenario III Brief description Current FIT 36,410 KZT/MWh / No incentives Current FIT + 30% Total CAPEX GG Upgraded FIT 70,000 KZT/MWh /No incentives Scenarios to be assessed Scenarios Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA)
  12. 12. Scenario I (On-grid PV FIT) Financial parameters Inflation rate % 9.7% Discount rate % 12.0% Project life yr 20 Finance Incentives and grants KZT Debt ratio % 25.0% Debt KZT 4 117 300 Equity KZT 12 351 900 Debt interest rate % 15% Debt term yr 20 Debt payments KZT/yr 657 786 Financial viability After-tax IRR - equity % 15.1% Simple payback yr 17.6 Equity payback yr 8.8 Net Present Value (NPV) KZT 4 587 237 Benefit-Cost (B-C) ratio 1.37 Cumulative cash flows (as extracted from RETScreen) 12Feasibility Analysis (via LCCA)
  13. 13. Financial parameters Fuel cost escalation rate % 3.0% Inflation rate % 9.7% Discount rate % 12.0% Project life yr 20 Financial viability Pre-tax IRR on equity % 20.9 Simple payback yr 12.3 Equity payback yr 7.2 Net Present Value (NPV) KZT 5 849 558 Benefit-Cost ratio 1.47 11 Scenario II (On-grid PV FIT + 30% CAPEX GG) Cumulative cash flows (as extracted from RETScreen) Feasibility Analysis (via LCCA)
  14. 14. Financial parameters Inflation rate % 9.7% Discount rate % 12.0% Project life yr 20 Debt ratio % 25.0% Debt KZT 4 117 300 Equity KZT 12 351 900 Debt interest rate % 15% Debt term yr 20 Debt payments KZT/yr 657 786 Financial viability After-tax IRR - equity % 28.3% Simple payback yr 8.3 Equity payback yr 5.0 Net Present Value (NPV) KZT 32 298 837 Benefit-Cost (B-C) ratio 3.61 12 Scenario III (On-grid PV Upgraded FIT ) Cumulative cash flows (as extracted from RETScreen) Feasibility Analysis (via LCCA)
  15. 15. Summary of 3 scenarios Scenario I Scenario II Scenario III Scenario brief description no incentives, actual feed in tariff 36,410 KZT/MW 30 % incentives from government with actual feed in tariff new proposed feed in tariff 70,000 KZT/MW Pre-tax IRR on equity (%) 15.1 20.9 28.3 Simple payback (years) 17.6 12.3 8.3 Equity payback (years) 8.8 7.2 5 Net Present Value (NPV) (KZT) 4 587 237 5 849 558 32 298 837 Benefit-Cost ratio 1.37 1.47 3.61 13Feasibility Analysis (via LCCA)
  16. 16. Concluding remarks Financial impact via LCCA of On-grid PV system at Nazarbayev University campus was explored under 3 scenarios: (I) Current FIT; (II) Current FIT + Grant; and (III) Upgraded FIT. Results show that: • Scenario I, under current FIT of 36,410 KZT/MWh, is marginally attractive with large Equity and Simple paybacks and a modest Benefit-Cost ratio of 1.37. • Adding an incentive of 30% of CAPEX (scenario II) improves the project financial outcome, but still in a modest level, keeping Equity and Simple paybacks above 10 years. • Nearly duplicating the current FIT (scenario III), with no grant, led to a dramatic change in financial outcome, turning the project into a highly attractive investment. • Results have proven that subtle changes in Kazakhstan’s FIT policy may create the appropriate scenario to bring on-grid PV systems to campuses and facilitate the “teaching by example”. 16
  17. 17. Any comments or questions? 17 Thank you