Japanese wind energy developers eye projects in Russia

Japanese investors are lining up to assess wind power opportunities in the frontier market of Russia’s Far East.

The Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok last week saw a number of memoranda signed between Japanese wind developers and their Russian counterparts. While the agreements are either non-binding or small in scale, they highlight growing interest in clean energy projects in Russia’s eastern regions. Russian wind power has lagged behind solar owing to legislative delays and stiff rules on local content in construction. Almost all of the major projects currently being developed are situated west of the Ural Mountains in European Russia.

Russian hydroelectric giant RusHydro, which has sought to branch out in wind and solar power in recent years, struck a trio of agreements with Japanese partners at last week’s forum. The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japanese conglomerate Mitsui and Komai, an Osaka-based designer and builder of wind power equipment.

The document calls for the pair to consider building three cold climate wind turbines with a combined capacity of 900 kW in the township of Lavrentia in the region of Chukotka. The project is backed by the local government, which will work with the project partners to study costs and prepare a timeline for implementation. Authorities will also review whether to set a tariff ensuring a return on investment at the scheme.

RusHydro signed a similar document with the pair of Japanese companies to expand an existing pilot wind farm in the Ust-Kamchatsk township in the region of Kamchatka. They will also consider the construction of a second unit elsewhere in the area.

Finally, the Russian company struck a declaration of intent (DoI) with Japanese clean energy developer NEDO on implementing a pilot 1-MW wind-diesel hybrid plant in Tiksi township of Russia’s Sakha Republic. NEDO will launch a feasibility study of the project, with the aid of Japanese contractors. At a later point, the company will supply three 300-kW turbines and three diesel generators.

RusHydro is developing wind-diesel hybrids in a number of isolated areas of Russia’s Far East, where building larger power stations would be uneconomical. It already has such plants in operation in Kamchatka and on Sakhalin Island.

Also at the Eastern Economic Forum, Russian logistics group Onego reached a memorandum of co-operation (MoC) with Japanese wind specialist Windpal to assess the prospects of building wind power plants on coastal areas in the Far East. The document also calls for the pair to consider construction of a fleet of up to 150 specialised maintenance vessels.

Russian power companies are also recruiting Japanese manufacturers at solar-diesel plants in the Far East. Russia’s business daily Kommersant reported earlier this month that Hevel, a joint venture between Russia’s Renova and Rusnano, had contracted Japan’s Hyundai to provide diesel generators for a 40-MW facility of hybrid capacity across the region.