The EBRD has lent US$40mn to Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ), the national rail utility, to improve the rail network’s energy efficiency.

Speaking to GTR at the deal signing in London today (December 19), KTZ’s vice-president for logistics Kanat Alpysbayev said that the loan would be of great assistance as the organisation attempts to simultaneously extend Kazakhstan’s trade infrastructure and reduce carbon emissions.

The loan will help fund the purchase of an upgrading lighting system and alternative heating solutions, such as heat pumps, solar water heaters and boiler upgrades. All in, the finance is set to help KTZ reduce carbon emissions by 80,000 tonnes a year.

Thomas Maier, the EBRD’s managing director of infrastructure, tells GTR that the KTZ loan – which takes the total credit the bank has extended to KTZ past the US$450mn mark – is a small piece of the clean finance jigsaw the bank is building in Kazakhstan.

The EBRD recently said that it is considering financing Kazakhstan’s first wind farm in Yereymentau, which is hoped will power the Astana Expo 2017. Late in 2012, it lent US$12.7mn for the construction of a waste-to-energy plant in Aktau.

The country is among the top 20 largest carbon emitters per capita in the world. With huge oil and gas reserves, the renewables sector struggles to get a foothold and financing can be tough to come by.

Alpysbayev says that for non-renewable projects, commercial banks are more likely to be involved in the lending. The company has worked extensively with the EBRD, however, which has assisted it in drafting its clean energy strategy.

He continues: “The EBRD doesn’t just provide finance but helps us to reach our targets for energy efficiency. It’s a co-operation between the company and bank – a partnership. The EBRD helps us to develop a business case for energy efficiency and all the finance links back to this business case.”

Alpysbayev also spoke of KTZ’s plans to rebrand itself as a logistics company, rather than just railway. Tomorrow (December 20), he will be present at the opening of a new 1,200km railway line linking the country’s west and centre. Given Kazakhstan’s location, KTZ’s ambition is to become the main player in regional trade.

He says: “Kazakhstan will be a regional logistical hub. It’s halfway between east and west and we view our railways as being the bridge between the two.”