Renewable Energy Forum proposes formation of alternative energy working group and showcases hopeful developments

Publish date: April 19, 2012

Written by: Anna Kireeva

Translated by: Charles Digges

PETROZAVODSK – Bellona wound up its fifth annual Renewable Energy Forum, held here in the capital of Northwestern Karelian republic by proposing the formation of a working group on issues of renewable energy development, energy savings and energy effectiveness.

Results presented at the foum were a positive indicator that many municipalities in Northwest Russia are both agreeable to alternative energy and actively seeking sources of fundings. Others still have implemented projects that are only improving.

The two-day forum, jointly arranged with the Association of Greens of Karelia, included discussions of the current state of deploying renewable sources in Northwest Russia, perspectives for developing contemporary energy effective technology for the Barents Region and how to attract investment for such efforts.

Forum participants included members of the local administration and representatives of its ministries, financial groups, officials from financial institutes, environmentalist, scientists, scholars and Russian and foreign businesses implementing renewable energy projects in the republic. All agreed that renewable energy development in the region was a pressing issue.  

Forum participants also visited a local factory that prepares biofuel pellets. Located near Petrozavodsk, the factory is capable of producing some 200,000 tons of pellets per year, only five percent of which are used in the local energy market. The bulk are sold to Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The Russian Barents Region 

Representatives of the Karelia and the nearby Arkangelsk Region spoke with pride about their efforts to save energy and boost energy efficiency.

Arkangelsk reports that its portion of consumption of local biofuel is rising. Currently the usage of biofuels stands at 32 percent, up sharply from 2007 when local usage was reported at 18 percent. It coal consumption since 2007 has commensurately dropped from 37 percent to 30 percent, and its use of heating oil – including diesel – from 16 percent to 7 percent over the same timeframe.

Nord-Gidro in 2011 launched the construction of a small hydro-electric plant in Karelian village of Lyaskel in the Pitkyarant region of the republic. This is the first and so far only small hydro-electric plant in Russian achieving the requirements of a genuine hydro-electric plant. Small hydro-electric can help produce electricity sufficient for 10 villages like Lyaskel – or 8,500 typical apartments.

The Karelian administration has signed an agreement of cooperation with the VES firm in the area of developing the republic’s energy systems. The deadline for the upgrades is 2016 and the aggregate investment in the program is 14,168 billion roubles. Specifically, the projects aims to construct eight wind parks in the Belomor and Kem municipalities in the Karelian Republic with a total installed capacity of 192 megawatts.

The municipalities, availing themselves of diffrent financial institutions, including the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), intend to realize various projects in the area of energy efficiency and boosting energy effectiveness.

Against the background of the efforts being undertaken in Karelia and the Arkangelsk Region in the area of cultivating renewable energy, Murmansk’s own efforts in this area seem to pale by comparison. 

The Forum’s results

Bellona and its forum co-organizer the Association of Greens of Karelia sent their proposal on the renewable energy, energy savings and energy effectiveness working group to Karelian Republic head Andrei Nelidov with the suggestion that such a group be a constantly active group to more effectively address the issues.

Among those the environmental groups suggested including in the working group include representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Committee for Housing and Public Utilities and Energy, The Natural Resources and Ecology Ministry of Karelia, companies and enterprises that are developing contemporary energy efficient technologies, scientists, environmentalists and other interested parties. 

It is assumed that the working group would undertake analyses of the legalities surrounding renewable energy, energy savings and efficiency, work to promote the use of energy efficient technologies in the construction of new buildings, including new apartment blocks that would form sustainably developing communities in Karelia. The working group would also take on inter-regional and international cooperation in this field to attract investment.