In a major advance for renewable energy in Russia, Sberbank, Moscow’s largest bank, has opened a $341 million dollar line of credit to build a 201 megawatt wind park in the Murmansk Region of the country’s Northwest.
The project has been a long time in the coming. Talk of a wind park in Russia’s arctic reaches first surfaced in 2001. Ever since, Bellona Murmansk has championed the idea, and published several reports on how well suited the windswept tundra of Russia’s Northwest territory would be for the construction of windmills.
Yet it was not until 2008 that the local government approved a declaration of intent from Enel Rus Wind Kola, the firm that will built the wind park. But the project ran into a tangle of Russian energy legislation, which hadn’t yet been clarified to allow for renewable energy production.
Then, in the summer of 2017, the company won a competitive tender for the windmill construction in both near Murmansk and Rostov, 1,600 kilometers to the south.
Since that time, public hearings have been conducted on the proposed location of the wind farm, and the company has resolved various land acquisition issues. It has also received all necessary permits and documents.
Now, Enel Rus Wind Kola has told Bellona that it has cleared one of the final hurdles by receiving the Sberbank line of credit, and says the plant will be commissioned by the end of 2021.
“The project is developing in accordance with the approved schedule,” reads a statement to Bellona from the company, which adds that the wind park’s blueprints are currently undergoing government environmental review. The statement further said that preliminary construction will begin this year.
Andrei Zolotkov, who heads of Bellona Murmansk, said that 15 years ago, when the idea for this project was first discussed, those who supported renewable energy in Russia were few and far between.
“Now, our regional authorities should roll up their sleeves and bring the matter to a logical conclusion with Enel Russia by creating the most comfortable conditions for construction work and everything else connected to this project,” says Zolotkov.
In remarks to Bellona, Carlo Palasciano Villamagna, Enel Russia’s general director, welcomed the participation of Sberbank, and said the wind park will be an important development for Murmansk’s renewable energy sector.
“Moving forward, we intend to maximize the total value achieved through the implementation of this project, achieving the plant’s commissioning and its production of clean energy,” he said.
Anatoly Popov, who is deputy chairman of the board at Sberbank, says the bank is eager to participate in energy development programs.
“This project will be one of the largest in the field of wind energy on the Russian market,” Popov said. “We are pleased to be cooperating with Enel Russia to implement the strategic task of developing the renewable energy sector.”