Media tour on green energy for journalists

On November 2-3, 2015, a media tour dedicated to the development of renewable energy sources (RESs) and energy efficiency took place in St. Petersburg. Journalists were shown examples of RESs based on solar, wind power, and geothermal energy. They saw an example of energy efficient renovation of a standard high-rise building of the 137 series carried out through joint efforts of homeowners and an energy service company.

A seminar preceded the media tour; journalists had learned new information about climate changes, the new international agreement on climate to be adopted in December 2015 at the UN Conference in Paris, and climate-related actions in the European Union and Russia, both in the sphere of adaptation and reduction of greenhouse gases at the account of energy efficiency enhancement and transfer to renewable energy. The seminar was organized by the Russian-German Bureau of Ecological Information and the German Embassy in Russia.

Within the frames of the media tour developed by the Friends of the Baltic NGO and the Climate Bureau of the Russian Social and Ecological Union, the group of journalists visited the Science and Education Center of Renewable Types of Energy and Renewable Energy Converters at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. The journalists could see operating units: a wind power generator, a solar energy collector for heating and hot water supply; and a power generating solar silicone photo panel. They learned about the advantages of geothermal heat pumps for individual houses, which are only 10-15% more expensive than gas supplying or oil-fired boiler rooms but spare from the necessity to use fuel which means that the price difference will pay back within a few years.

Director of the Center prof. Victor V. Yelistratov told about the RES projects under practical implementation in the Russian Arctic, where the wind power is a real alternative to the Northern supply route. For example, the new wind power Diesel energy complex in Amderma settlement allowed to reduce:

  • Power production at the Diesel power station from 510 thousand Kw∙h to 160 thousand Kw∙h (more than three times);
  • Diesel fuel consumption from 719 thousand l to 416 thousand l (by 40%), i.e., 303 thousand liters per year which saved RR 12.5 mln;
  • СО2 amounts by 600 tons.

The effect achieved at the account of reduction of the amount of supplied fuel and introduction of economically based tariffs amounted to RR 45 million per year.

Presently, less than 1% of electrical power is produced in Russia at the account of RESs; the goal set for 2020 is 2.5 %, while for the year 2035 it is 4.5%. However, RESs subsiding mechanisms have been launched under condition that 50% of their components are of Russian production. In our region, i.e. the City of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region, we have positive experience of exploitation of wind power stations installed at the account of small businesses or private home owners’ initiatives. In Murmansk and Belgorod Regions, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Sakhalin and the Crimea they have a broader experiences of such kind; the most recent examples included installation of wind power stations in Diksi and Amderma where they should turn into an alternative to the Northern supply route.

Solar power plants operate in a number of regions, and this shows that the renewable energy branch has a solid perspective. It can provide for a significant part of the country’s energy balance, serve as a kick-off for the development of new production facilities, and provide jobs if corresponding incentives and support to interested developers and consumers of such energy are provided.

The theme of energy efficiency was in the core of the journalists’ visit to a standard high-rise building of the 137 series at #11 Industrialny Avenue, where energy-efficient renovation has been implemented.
The building with 214 apartments was constructed in 1984; a number of windows and doors in the spaces of common use had been replaced with double glass units; insulating vestibules at the entrance doors and on each floor exits to common-use balconies had also been installed (houses of the 137 series have staircases going through balconies).
All lamps have been replaced with light-emitting diodes and “presence sensors” installed at stairways providing for saving on electrical energy no less than fifty percent.
The key measure, i.e., installation of an individual heating point (IHP) regulating the temperature of the heat medium in the house depending on the temperature of the air outdoors, has not been yet completed; however, noticeable saving of more than 50% had already taken place in October. This could have been also caused by relatively mild October temperatures, but it is important that no “overheating” had taken place and the heat had not been uselessly lost.
When additional regulating units will have been installed on the heating dropping pipes, savings might even increase and, in many cases, heating might be switched off in the elevator halls.

Where did the funds come from to provide for this complex of events? There were a number of sources. All replacements of lamps had taken place at the account of homeowners; renovations of the elevators were carried out at the account of overhaul. Installation of IHP was made at the account of the economy servicing contract. The energy service company (ESC) had invested RR 2,607 thousand in this project. Residents, despite the reduction of costs, will keep paying previous amounts, while the difference between payments and the actual expenses will pay back for the expenses of the energy service company. The contract is meant for 5 years. If all ESC’s expenses will not have paid back within this period of time, this will be its risk. However, if the project will pay back earlier, the contract will be considered terminated.
Energy servicing contracts were expected to become one of the core elements of the RF State Program on “Energy Saving and Enhancement of Energy Efficiency till 2020.” However, due to tight rates, no massive ESC development has occurred so far. In the meantime, the process of “divestments,” i.e., re-orientation of major investment foundations from carbonaceous projects to RESs and energy efficiency, is taking place in Europe. The Norwegian Pension Fund, the world biggest sovereign fund, also is one of such investors. Its funds helped to execute the energy servicing contract under the frames of implementing the Norwegian concept of the Green Energy One. You can read more about it at
In St. Petersburg, up to 17% of the entire residential fund are composed of houses of the 137 series; this amounts to 23 thousand buildings. Energy efficient modernization of these buildings, especially in the sphere of effective heat use, will help to save up to Euro 4 annually.
The energy efficient renovation in the #11 Industrialny Ave. building became possible thanks to a number of factors. The genuine interest and dedication of the Association of Home Owners and their active work with the homeowners was one of the most important things. The role of the City Homeowners Association, the initiator of the project acting on the ESC’s side, was also extremely important. The City Center of Energy Saving is presently very active: its website contains information and model contracts; each district holds seminars for AHO leaders. All things together, the result has been provided for.
According to Nickolay V. Pitirimov, 30 more renovation projects are ready to go in Nevsky District: this many AHOs are interested in enhancing energy efficiency in their houses.

It is a lot more profitable to use the potential of saved energy for other needs rather than to build new boiler houses: it is more profitable for businesses, residents, the nature, and climate.