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Thinking forward using forward thinking in Mongolia energy

Interview - January 21, 2014
As Mongolia's energy demand grows exponentially, the Deputy Minister of Energy Dulamsuren Dorjpurev explains to Worldfolio how the government plans to meet the ever-increasing demand by using a mix of renewable and non-renewable sources. It is expected that by 2025, 20-25% of energy demand will be met by renewable resources, and this is going to require significant foreign investment
Mongolia is blessed with abundant natural resources that are contributing to the rapid development of the country. However, Mongolia’s renaissance needs to combine this economic boom with environmental friendly policies in order to create sustainable economic development and achieve energy self-sufficiency by promoting the use of renewables energies. Tell us about the role of wind energy and how your government is encouraging its use?
Mongolia has established a law regarding the use and promotion of renewal energies, including wind power generation. The government is currently developing some projects in the country. Last June, during the international environmental day we opened a new project based on wind power generation capacity that will allows us to generate 50mw. 
Around 100.000 people in the rural areas are nomads. The government aims to achieve an inclusive socio-economic growth and take full advantage of our vast territory by developing solar energy power projects, which could help those communities. As a result of that, some nomadic communities have started to use renewables power energy systems. Before they were just using electricity to charge their cell phones and watch TV, but today they are using refrigerators and freezers and this is improving their quality of life. We are also working with international companies for the accomplishment of the National Renewal Energy Center.
This center is bringing power supply to all those citizens that are spread throughout Mongolia’s landscape. We have to ensure their access to electricity, that’s why through this center we are unifying the renewable power supply system. 
Some studies appoint that Mongolia’s wind energy generation capacity will not just cover the needs of Mongolians families and businesses, but will also provide energy to Russia of China. Will we see Mongolia as a net exporter of wind energy to its neighbors?
We have to take full advantage of our geographic situation. Some studies are being conducted regarding the potential of Mongolia’s wind power generation capacity. However this is a path that has to be taken by working together with nearer countries. Wind itself cannot be contained so we need to determine how this energy can be used in a very efficient way and for that we need to establish a further collaboration with China, Kurdistan, Kazakhstan. Not just regarding wind, but also solar. 
By 2020, Mongolia wants to have a 20-25% energy mix coming from renewables. Do you think this target is achievable?
Yes, we need to implement the right amount of renewables energies that will be needed so we can reach this percentage. 
One of the most current subjects of conversation in Mongolia is diversification away from mining and the importance to create a national based industry that could add value to those raw materials along the downstream process. For this to happen, the industry will need as much energy as possible. How are you boosting the exploration of other kinds of renewable energies?
We want to put more efforts into water-based renewable energy. We want to create awareness about the use of a profitable combination of energy resources. As we are a land-locked country surrounded by China and Russia, every effort regarding the use of renewable energies should contemplate international partnerships. 

As a long term investment, how are the industry and the government attracting foreign investors, promoting joint ventures and technical assistance in the energy sector?
First we have to determine our coal, wind, water and solar energy generation capacity. Once this is done we would know how much investment we will need and the possible generation capacity that each power plant will bring.
Modernization of Ulaanbaatar’s electricity distribution network is needed in order to improve the quality of life for its citizens. The other issue is the increase of pollution during wintertime. What is the current situation of the modernization plan of Ulaanbaatar’s power plants? What is the strategy for making them more efficient?
In order to reduce the pollution and improve the power plants we are introducing new technologies. For example, this technology (German & Czech) is improving our power plant number 4, which produces 60% of the heating in UB. The Japanese Investment Fund will also help us to acquire new technology with a low rate interest.
Could you give me an overview of the CBMG machine?
The CBMG machine is located in the coal line and we are using it to generate electricity. But its potential use depends on the mixed levels of the coal. There are possibilities in Gobi of 15 billion cubic meters of CBMG. The government is currently issuing new laws and regulations regarding the new CBMG and they are ready to cooperate with other research facilities regarding this new gas.
What are your key priorities in order to achieve stable energy supply and energy sales efficiency?
We are getting ready to meet the energy needs of our population and businesses. Our expansion power plant project includes power plants in western Mongolia and the ongoing projects of Power Plant nº5 and Tavan Tolgoi Power Plant with a capacity of 550mw. We are also increasing the capacity of Dornod’s Power Plant by 100mw. The private mining sector is also developing power plants throughout the country.
Is that purely for industrial electricity use?
To feed our domestic power consumption we should consider our domestic electricity transmission line. We are in talks to build bigger grade power lines. We need to have a bridge between China and Russia to fulfill the needs. In order to use our resources we need to send the cheapest ones to other regions in the country.