Russian coal: a new challenge

Publish date: March 15, 2010

Written by: Veronica Webster

A roundtable discussion organised by the German Marshall Fund of the US (GMF) was held in Brussels last week. The roundtable discussed Russian coal production in the context of Dmitry Medvedev’s, President of the Russian Federation, announcement in November 2009 that Russia was looking to expand its coal-fired energy production by 26% in time for 2030 to meet rising domestic energy demands. A recent paper commissioned by the GMF finds that such demands could be met more cost-effectively through increased energy efficiency measures.

The attendees included representatives of EU think tanks, Russian academia and the European Commission.

Speakers clarified that although Russia is currently on track to meeting the self-imposed greenhouse gas reduction target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 – due to the drop in energy and, thus, gas demand in Europe over the past few years – such an expansion in CO2 emissions poses an added threat to the environment. The energy sector’s plan to install 7000megawatts (MW) of electrical production capacity from coal by 2012 will increase coal consumption by 170 million tons per annum by 2020.

At the roundtable Dr Kevin Rosner, Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington D.C., presented his recently published paper entitled “Russian Coal: Europe’s new energy challenge” (published by GMF in Climate & Energy Paper Series 2010). His paper finds that Russia could more cost-effectively meet its increased power demands through large-scale efficiency uprades in power generation and consumption, rather than investing in coal. His paper encourages EU and US institutions to assist Russia in implementing such measures as part of their climate change and energy security policymaking.

Access Dr Kevin Rosner’s paper here.