Renewables: Citius, Altius, Fortius!

The Regulations for generating facilities changed on February 1, 2014, simplifying the procedure for qualification of the generation operating on renewable energy sources (RES) at wholesale and retail electricity markets. The time period for companies entering the market could reduce by several times. Representatives of environmental organizations hope that the number of barriers to development of energy alternatives in Russia will reduce and bring concrete results.

The proposals aimed at development of alternative energy market were formulated in 2012. On 28 January, 2014, the Regulations for qualification of generating facilities operating on RES have been changed. The amendments were formed on the basis of the set of measures to stimulate renewables developed by the Russian Government.

One of the key barriers to development of renewable energy market, according to its participants, is the high complexity of the qualification procedure for generation facilities based on renewable energy. Changing the Regulations will entail significant simplification of qualification requirements. These requirements, according to the companies operating RES facilities, used to be unjustifiably complicated before. For example, they required installation of recording systems of a higher class than even at nuclear facilities.

Previously, RES facilities had to pass a lot of specific procedures to enter in the wholesale and retail electricity markets. It included, in particular, the lengthy procedure of qualification that took about 10 months, which delayed many companies entering in the electricity market. According to experts, this time period will be reduced by 2.5 times.

Furthermore, according to the innovation, the requirement to use an automated system of commercial energy accounting is replaced by the requirement to use specialized metering devices, which can reduce the costs and labor of the procedure.

The initiators of the amendments in the field of renewable energy are not going to stop. At the Council meeting on economic modernization and innovative development of Russia, they proposed to consider the amount of renewable energy as a criterion for evaluation of effectiveness of regional governors.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in his speech at the meeting of the Council, stressed the need to make greater use of mechanisms to support research in the field of biotechnology and "green energy" and promote commercialization of results of this activity. "It is also necessary to develop different forms of technical regulation and standardization, including encouraging - though not a simple process - such a gradual transition to "green standards" both in production and consumption," - said the head of the Government.

At the Council meeting, the Government also announced proposals to stimulate production of energy from agricultural waste, peat and wastes. Such power plants will be offered preferential loans, a mechanism of investment return at the wholesale energy market and reduction of railway tariffs for transportation of peat and biofuels. In addition, agricultural producers can be partially prohibited to dump untreated waste.

Dmitry Medvedev instructed to include the generation from biomass (including industrial and household wastes, dump wastes and biogas, biofuels wood and peat) in the list of renewable energy sources with support at the wholesale energy market (wind, solar and small hydropower stations have already promises guarantees of payback). It is assumed that the user tariffs must not grow, despite the increase of the share of expensive RES-generation.

Generation on biomass will also have benefits in loans and rail transport. Offices and banks are instructed to discuss until July 23 increasing loan terms for such projects up to 10-15 years with minimum rates. Railway tariffs for transportation of wood biofuels, peat and agricultural waste are proposed to be established at the level of preferential tariffs for coal.

Representatives of environmental organizations consider the steps to promote RES as positive in general. However, in their opinion, there are still too many barriers for a significant breakthrough in development of alternative energy. Still pressing is the question on government subsidies for traditional forms of energy.