“Renewable” garbage

Representatives of the Russian energy business argue against reduction of state support to renewable energy sources.  Representatives of the Enel energy company established in the result of reforming RAO UES of Russia sent a letter to Vice Prime Minister Arkadiy Dvorkovich concerning the negative impact on the economy of the resolution on reduction of the RESs-generated power takeoff.

“This step will downsize the circle of potential investors... and lead to noticeable slowdown in the investing activity in the sector, as well as it will make impossible the full-scale realization of the existing natural potential,” Kommersant quoted the letter.  At the same time, representatives of the power company see Russia as one of the promising regions for the development of renewable energy sources. 


Businessmen’s utmost indignation was caused by the reduction of support to wind generation.  And the reason to this was that in the changes of RESs target indexes for the period from 2021 till 2025 approved by the RF Government, the amounts of commissioned capacities of facilities operating on wind generation put out to tenders will go down by 250 MWt in total, i.e., to 3.351 GWt, i.e., only 150.2 MWt will be put out in 2024 instead of the earlier planned 336.8 MWt.   


It was exactly the wind that hit a raw nerve of Enel and other businessmen who wanted to invest in the sector.  Let’s take Rosatom for example: by estimates of its specialists, the wind energy market in Russia could have amounted to 3.6 GWt by 2014 with annual business volume nearing 200 billion rubles.   The nuclear power industry assessed the potential demand for WPPs in Russia, production of wind turbines, components and exploitation services, and post-sales maintenance till 2024 at the level of RR 400 billion.


On the one hand, one cannot claim that Russian authorities do not try to stimulate the development of RESs.  In 2015, nearly 57 MWt RESs capacities had been commissioned in Russia, and nearly 70 MWt were added in 2016.  The forecast for 2017 is no less than 100 MWt, First Deputy Director of the RF Energy Ministry A. Teksler told.  According to him, Russia keeps building up RES power generation.  Altogether, a series of solar power stations (SPSs) and wind power plants (WPPs) are planned to be commissioned by 2024 in Russia with total capacity of 6 thousand MWt.   


Nevertheless, so far, the state support leaves much to be desired. Projects for financing and state support are selected once a year, but there is no investor boom.   In the reality, each time it happens that not all amounts of state-offered RESs generation are expended.  And the reasons to this, experts believe, are mostly connected with the inflated requirements, e.g., for equipment localization: the present level of domestically produced products of renewable appropriation does not meet the conditions of the target set by the state.   


Business’s discontent and experts’ concerns cause the circumstance that de-facto the state gave its permission to re-distribute the funds initially intended for RESs for construction of waste incineration plants.  As it happens, projects of waste incineration plants to be built in Kazan and Podmoskovie will be eligible for the tender on state funding of RESs.  That said, their only link with the theme of RESs is that the side product of incineration is intended for power generation. 


The ground for such changes was prepared in the beginning of this year: a directive allowing to “expand measures of state support for renewable energy sources to generating objects functioning on the basis of solid waste incineration” had been issued.  Having permitted to finance waste incineration plants at the account of RESs money, state bodies had de-facto equaled solid waste to renewable energy sources. 


Some experts connect this measure with the RF presidential order to resolve waste problems in the Year of Environment.  It looks really cool to do this at the account of RESs: they spent no extra money, supported renewable energy sources, and started to resolve the waste problem.   


The practice of using waste for energy production is used in several world countries.  However, the majority of these projects, especially those connected with bio fuel production and waste incineration plants cause a good deal of criticism from environmentalists and general public.   


Utilization of the RESs funding instruments for construction of waste incineration plants takes off finances, experts believe.   By the gist, this is a hidden form of cross-subsidization.  From the viewpoint of the energy industry, power production based on waste incineration is an unpractical measure.  Expenditures necessary for production of such energy are noticeably higher than production expenditures of a gas-fired power station of the same capacity.  Besides this, the fact of capacity withdrawal from the renewable power production and its transfer to waste incineration sends a wrong signal to the emerging market of green energy.   


“Waste incineration plants have nothing to do with renewable power generation and their construction should not be carried out at the account of the RESs state support,” representatives of the Russian Social Ecological Union believe.  Environmental activists argue against the waste incineration plants.  These facilities “do not meet the environmental standards and requirements of cyclic economy; they are economically expensive, cost-intensive, and as a whole, they do not correspond to the goals of sustainable development...” representatives of RSEU wrote.  Public opinion and environmental movement believe that it is necessary to abandon the hazardous plans of constructing waste incineration plants and to develop alternative ways of problem solving: separate waste collection and its environmental safe recycling, while investing in the development of RESs