Despite favourable climatic conditions that are supportive of renewable energy generation, a vast electricity market and strong growth in GDP per capita, all factors which are indicative of the considerable potential in terms of renewables expansion, a whole host of challenges stand in the way of prospective investors. A distinct lack of renewable energy subsidies and questions over the transparency of the tendering process and the level of market liberalisation are likely to hinder project development across all renewable technology sectors.
Russia’s Energy Strategy 2030 aims to develop non-hydropower renewable energy sources so they account for at least 4.5% of the total electricity generation by 2020. Despite the significant potential for renewable technology, in particular wind energy, the fact there are no government subsidies will almost certainly dampen investment appetite.
Key developments in the Russian renewables market include:
– Russian state nanotechnology firm Rusnano and energy conglomerate Renova have outlined plans for the construction of Russia’s first solar power plant, which will be undertaken by their joint venture (JV) – Khevel. The plant, to be built in the spa town of Kislovodsk on the Black Sea will have a 12.3 megawatt (MW) capacity, split evenly between photovoltaic (PV) and thermal power. The deal is worth US$97mn and the plant is expected to come online by 2013. Additionally, the two companies plan to start manufacturing solar film panels in late 2012.
– In March 2012, Russian developer Wind Energy Systems (WES) signed an agreement with the government of Karelia to build two 24MW wind projects in the districts of Kemsky and Belomorsky. Investment in the two projects is estimated at US$420mn, with commissioning scheduled for 2015-2016.
– Russia plans to invest US$200mn in the construction of the country’s largest wind farm (Yeisk) in the Black Sea Territory of southern Krasnoyarsk. Great Energy RU, the subsidiary of the renewable energy company Greta Energy Inc, will manage the construction and operation of the wind farm. The wind farm is set to enter commercial operation in 2012 and will have a total capacity of 100MW. However, construction is dependent on a bill that strategises the funding procedure; this is yet to be released and, consequently, we do not expect the farm to come online until 2014.
– Talks between Iceland and Russia over the expansion of geothermal energy within the Kamchatka region have been ongoing since October 2010 and energy cooperation between the two states is likely in the medium term. However, geothermal energy has very high start-up costs and funding represents a substantial downside risk to the geothermal industry.