Renewable energy will transform the Russian economy

Discussion about the prospects of renewable energy sources was one of the brightest at the Gaidar Forum.  The Rosnano Head named RESs among the three major trends which should transform the Russian economy. 

In the end of 2016, news columns abounded with messages about construction of solar and wind energy parks in various regions of Russia. There even was a general impression that the era of renewable energy sources had started in our country. And the global context was quite suitable: alternative sources had long ago got ahead the coal, and RESs presently are the major global energy source by their cumulative capacity.

“If we are speaking from the countrywide situation, I believe that the solar energy in Russia has already established itself and in the future it will only keep growing and growing in its capacity.  The wind energy might come true already in 2017,” Anatoly Chubais,  Chair of the Rosnano Board, claimed at the Gaidar Forum.  He named three innovation clusters which either has already emerged in Russia or are about to emerge in the nearest ten-year future: renewable energy, nuclear medicine, and energy storage.  


President of Sberbank German Gref  has an entirely opposite opinion on RESs perspectives.  “So far, I see neither ‘sun,’ not ‘wind’ in our country. I do not see what would we need the ‘sun’ for with our present cheap resources.  I do not see a single chance in the nearest ten years that any ‘sun’ or ‘wind’ would appear around here.  We might have wind in our pockets but not in the power production.”


The Head of Rosnano called this viewpoint a “denial of progress.” Anatoly Chubais believes that in 2024 Russia will be generating 3,500 megawatt of wind energy and 1500 megawatt of solar energy. “The potential of technological upgrade of the ‘sun” is a whole order greater than in the traditional heat power industry;” for this reason, prices for these two types of power production will become equal.   


“In the nearest future we are going to announce establishment of the fourth branch in alternative energy production: this is the branch of domestic production of equipment for wind energy.  We intend to implement serious investments into equipment production and turn it into the basis of newly established industry.”

To protect interests of foreign and domestic investors Anatoly Chubais appealed to Vice Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich with a request to introduce amendments to the Program of RESs Support. In his opinion, to provide for the popularity of wind energy at the level of solar energy, it is necessary to increase its capacities up to the level when it can to aspire for the budget support (from approximately 3.6GWt to 6GWt), extend the time limit of the program (till 2029), and enhance the utmost capital expenses based on which profitability of the projects is assessed.  Besides, Anatoly Chubais suggested to compose a restricted-access list of equipment for obligatory localization “in the interest of Russian industry.” 


So far, RESs do not have too many big-name lobbyists at the official level.  The alternative energy is conquering Russia from another side.  The renewable energy is of great interest in regions.  It is practically unbeatable from the viewpoint of reducing dependence from growth of tariffs on the electrical energy produced in traditional way and the necessity to transport coal and diesel fuel. 


By an Agreement with the Government of the Republic of Karelia, the Chinese Sinomec Corporation will build the first in the region electrical wind power station.  The marine WPS should appear in the Kem Region before 2020.   Japanese specialists are going to build a wind park in Yakutia.  A memorandum has been signed between PAO “RAO Energy Systems of the East,” the Republic of Sakha, and the Japanese KomaiKhaltec Inc. Company.   In the Rostov Region, regional authorities and the SoWiTecGroup have intentions to come up with an investment project for construction of a wind power station to be implemented in the territory of a former gambling zone.   


A Center of Alternative Energy is about to open in the near-Moscow Khimki.  It will propose specific technical solutions for utilization of RESs for industrial enterprises, communal management, and private residential houses in the countryside.  This initiative has already got approval of the City District Administration.    


Since recently, an electro mobile taxi is operating in Moscow.  At this point, the Moscow Tesla Club has two vehicles, but by the middle of February the auto park will be expanded up to four or five autos.  The American producer of premium electrical cars is going to open its official office in Russia.  Earlier, company’s representatives stated that Russian market had no perspectives for the Tesla Motors Company and for that reason there was no sense to open a dealer center.  Presently, the company intends to launch in Russia an auto salon, a company’s office, and a network of filling stations. 


Another renewable energy initiative is also connected with automobilists: Rosautodor has ordered research and design works on the "Development of methodical recommendations for providing auto highways with alternative sources of electrical energy and heating.”  A highway of the kind made of solar batteries already exists in France.  A kilometer-long segment of the road is composed of 2800 sq. meters of solar panels reminding blocks of hard rubber. Under the optimal conditions, a “solar road” can generate up to 280KWt of energy per hour, TASS informed.


Although few projects for RE development are running by huge Russian companies (Rosatom, Rosnano, Gazprom, etc), renewable energy in Russia in wide sense is developing not thanks but against to national energy trend,  Olga Senova, Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social Ecological Union, believes.  “Despite to the national Energy Strategy 2035 gives a priority to fossil fuel and nuclear power sector, RE keeps taking new positions and acquiring new allies.  It would be a lot more advantageous to stop ignoring global processes and start providing real support to regional projects, scientific, P&D organizations and business.”