Though the proposed Russian increase in reliance on renewables is woefully inadequate compared to what European Union countries, and even the United States under the administration of Barack Obama, are planning, it is nonetheless a step welcomed by Bellona in a country where renewable energy is only beginning to gain a smidgen of traction.
The European Union wants renewable energy to account for 20 percent of its output by 2020. Obama has promised to shower the renewable energy sector in the United States with $150 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years and put the country on track to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed government guidelines on renewable generation to make the industry more profitable, the Energy Ministry said Tuesday. The move is seen preliminarily by Bellona as a positive measure to garner necessary investment in Russia’s infant renewables industry.
It is also hoped by environmentalists that Putin’s guidelines will help codify renewable energy legislation for the development of wind parks and biomass energy sources in Russia’s Northwest, where two major wind parks are slated for construction with the help of the Netherlands.
Seminars on renewable energy in Russia held by Bellona’s Murmansk offices late last year revealed enormous investment potential and entrepreneurial enthusiasm for advancing such projects, but also shed light on the lack of a legislative base for renewable energy, which has thus far proven to be green energy’s main hurdle in Russia.
The state plans to invest in research and infrastructure for water, heat, solar and wind-based power, as well as attracting private funds to the industry, the paper said.
"The law should give some impetus for renewables, offering at least a minimum level of support from the state," Dmitry Skryabin, an analyst with VTB Capital, told The Moscow Times. He said RusHydro, Russia’s biggest hydropower producer, would benefit most from subsidies to renewable energy projects.
Russia is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases – thanks largely to the gas and oil boom it has experienced under Putin’s reign – and its generation industry accounts for a quarter of the emissions.
Boosting the share of renewables to 4.5 percent would mean building 22,000 megawatts of capacity, equivalent to a fleet of 22 nuclear reactors, according to the government’s 2020 energy strategy, the paper reported
The renewable energy guidelines, signed by Putin, do not take into account hydropower plants with a capacity of more than 25 megawatts, said the paper.
Including all of Russia’s hydropower capacity, the world’s biggest energy exporter generates 2.9 percent of its power from renewable sources, the least of any Group of Eight nation except Britain, according to the International Energy Agency, the paper reported.
Russia’s most fertile zone for the development of renewable energy is the Kola Peninsula. In October and November, the interdepartmental commission for siting industrial scale projects in the Murmansk Region approved a declaration of intention to build two wind parks in the area, with hints that it would approve a third.
St. Petersburg based-Russky Veter (Russian Wind) is slated to build a wind park in the Pechenga district of the Murmansk Region. Some 50 wind installations will be erected Northwest of the village of Linakhamakhara, were the average wind speed is estimated at eight meters a second.
Another wind park is expected to be built near the Kola Peninsula village of Teriberka by the Russia Windlife Arctic company, which was founded by the Dutch firm Windlife Energy.
The projects will be implemented with funding from the Dutch firm Project Invest.
The company has experience implementing ecological projects in Iran, the Netherlands, Armenia, and Crotia.
Though no specific mention of wind power on the Kola Peninsula was made in the Russian government’s announcement of it’s renewables boost, it is hoped by Bellona that the Kremlin will direct cash at developing the burgeoning renewable energy industry in Russia’s Northwest.