New plans, old benchmarks

The Ministry of Economic Development has sent to the executive authorities for approval the draft updated plan of measures to improve energy efficiency of the Russian economy. Practical actions and financing are of crucial importance in this matter, are sure representatives of the Russian Social and Ecological Union​.

The Ministry of Economic Development announced the need to adjust the energy saving plan in the State Report on the state of energy saving in Russia, presented at the end of last year. Analyzing the dynamics of energy consumption in the country since the beginning of the century, the administration structure came to the conclusion that almost all progress in reducing energy intensity was made in the period 2000-2008, and since 2015, the budget support for energy efficiency projects was practically stopped.

Experts state the fact: in 2008, it was planned to reduce the energy intensity of the economy by 40% by 2020, but in reality, only 12% reduction was achieved during this period. The Ministry has calculated that the current rates will allow to reach 40% only in 2043.

The new complex Plan of measures to improve energy efficiency of the Russian economy gives an updated benchmark. While the rate of energy efficiency improvement is stronger than now (it is planned to get out of stagnation), in fact it turns out that the achievement of the planned twelve years ago 40% is postponed for another 10 years. The energy intensity of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the document, should reach 20% by 2030 compared to 2017. This way, it is planned to save conditional fuel equivalent to a reduction of 280 million tons of CO2 emissions.

The new document is synchronized with the Long-Term Low-Carbon Development Strategy and should become the main instrument to achieve the climatic goals of Russia under the “baseline scenario.” “The updated plan is aimed at improving energy efficiency in the most energy intensive sectors of the economy, which consume more than 80% of all energy in the country: power production, industry, transport, and housing and utilities sector. Technological modernization of the economy with the introduction of energy-efficient technologies, in our opinion, should become a key driver for the implementation of the accumulated energy-saving potential,” explains Ilya Torosov, RF Deputy Minister for Economic Development.

The sections of the new Complex Plan include: improvement of energy efficiency in power production, industrial technologies, products and materials, transport, housing, public buildings, budget institutions, and heat supply. Measures are also planned to develop energy service activities and encourage investment in energy saving.

As follows from the Plan, the main actions will be aimed “at the modernization and implementation of advanced technologies of combined cycle gas and gas turbine plants, combined generation of electricity and heat, energy efficient household appliances and industrial equipment, modern vehicles, energy efficient structures of buildings, structures, facilities, and thermal insulation materials, energy efficient bulbs and lighting control systems, modern metering devices for the consumption of energy resources, digital information systems, etc.”

To finance the activities of the Plan, the Ministry of Economic Development proposes to create a specialized fund, the resources of which will be invested in energy efficient projects, including with the participation of ordinary citizens and “small and medium-sized businesses”. The department proposes to remove restrictions on the development of energy service activities, as well as to attract soft loans and “green” investments.

The first section of the Plan is called “100% accounting of energy resources and water”. Interestingly, despite the active introduction of devices in the country (the meter installation program was to be completed back in 2012), only 61% of apartment buildings were equipped with house metering devices by 2019.

The Comprehensive Plan assumes “the expansion of state support within the framework of the state program of concessional lending for the purchase of housing directly from housing developers in apartment buildings of high energy-efficiency class.”

The section “Available information and centers of competence” is highlighted in a separate line in the document; it is planned to involve regional centers of energy saving, and even “Russian Mail” in the implementation of this item for the “dissemination of information and instructional printed materials on energy saving and increasing energy efficiency.”

In industry, the Ministry of Economic Development plans to achieve positive results by introducing mandatory requirements for energy efficiency in the advent of new technologies, as well as new requirements for energy consumption of household electrical appliances. In addition, the requirements for thermal insulation materials and structures will become more stringent.

Despite the fact that in the current version of the Plan the sources of investments and financing are spelled out in more detail, there are fears that something may go wrong again: not all of the formulations correspond to the goals set. In particular, the explanatory note to the document says that “the adoption of the draft order will not entail social and economic, financial, and other consequences of the implementation of the proposed solutions, including for subjects of entrepreneurial and other economic activities,” and “the changes envisaged by the draft order will not affect the achievement of the goals of state programs of the Russian Federation.”

“In the course of many years, activists of Russian environmental organizations keep working  on the promotion of energy saving and energy efficiency, because energy efficiency is the largest, cleanest and cheapest source of energy. Practical actions and financing are crucial for improving energy efficiency: it is necessary to strengthen state support and introduce efficient mechanisms to attract investment and increase motivation,” says Olga Senova, head of the Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social and Ecological Union (RSEU).

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