Renewable energy: enforcement, subsidies or spontaneous market?

RusHydro experts do not agree with calculations of the Russian Government on development of renewable energy sources - they consider the plans overstated. Meanwhile another state corporation, RUSNANO, plans to double its assets in RES, and the industry refuses to centralized energy and builds its own power plants.

According to a recent draft decree on measures to stimulate development of renewable energy in Russia published by the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, by 2014 one shall see 345 MW of installed RES-based power generating facilities, and by 2020 - 11 GW. The document stipulates that a tool to support "green" energy should be contracts guaranteeing return on investments for each of the sources - wind, solar, biomass, biogas and water. Network companies will have to buy energy renewable energy at regulated tariffs. Actually, it has been decided to support renewable energy at the expense of other consumers - ultimately at the expense of the population. The state is not in a hurry to support renewable energy directly. Of the 50 billion rubles recently allotted by decree of President Putin from the budget for recapitalization RusHydro to support projects in the Far East, not a dime goes to renewable energy.

The Russian government approved the plans, according to which the share of electricity generated from renewable sources is expected to grow from the current 0.8 % to 4.5 % by 2020. RusHydro representatives consider this figure, low by international standards, being overassessed. The share of renewables in the energy mix of the country, according to their calculations, will not exceed 4 % by 2020.

"The installed capacity of wind power can be increased from 50 to 300 MW, of geothermal power plants - from 70 to 200 MW, of small hydro power plants - from 10 to 200 MW, and of solar power - from 10 to 300 MW," - said Michail Kozlov, the RusHydro director for innovation and renewable energy to a correspondent.

There are fears that the measures promoted by the Government of the Russian Federation will hit the wallets of consumers. According to economists, if the measures laid down in the government documents are implemented, consumers will get tariffs at least twice higher than the current ones (about 3 rub./KWh). Dmitry Govorov, the head of "Community energy consumers" Nonprofit Partnership, calls unacceptable subsidizing renewables by all consumers.

Igor Bashmakov, the director of the Center for Energy Efficiency (CENEF), parries: "About 70% of Russian power stations operate on gas. Somehow, no one calls outrageous annual growth in domestic gas prices by 15 %. While much less money is needed to support renewable energy."

While the state and RusHydro build forecasts and calculate tariffs, another state corporation, RUSNANO, announces new projects to use renewable energy sources. Anatoly Chubais, the RUSNANO Board Chairman, says: "We have quite serious intentions in this regard. We negotiate with major companies. I cannot yet announce the results, but if it happens, it at least doubles our assets in renewable energy. This is tens of billions of rubles."

The "standing on the ground" distributed power takes absolutely spontaneous forms. According to a study received by INFOLine agency, in terms of the energy reform and growing rates of network services for power transmission, a large part of industry refuse to purchase electricity from suppliers and invest in their own generation capacities. Most of these facilities are introduced outside the unified energy network, i. e., work only for the needs of the enterprises. The total volume of the capacities already introduced during 2008-2013 amounted to 11 GW, of which 2.8 GW are energy objects of low power.

Time only will tell if the governmental plans to develop renewable energy in Russia are implemented. Experts believe that the current support measures do not meet the needs - there are incentives for renewable energy without burdening the consumer. For example, each manufacturer of energy must generate a certain percentage of "green" energy - the so-called green certificate. If a manufacturer produces renewable energy beyond the norm, it can sell it to those who do not comply with the requirements of the certificate. In addition, direct subsidies to traditional energy sources are considered traditional. Why nuclear power develops at the expense of the state, and renewable energy - at the expense of consumers?