Anatoly Chubais: ''If we do not take the decision on CSA-2, renewable energy in Russia will wither''
Experts tell about the problems of renewable energy facilities development
The volume of new commissioned renewable energy facilities is annually growing in Russia. The technology and equipment production are developing, companies are entering foreign markets. However, the new type of domestic energy has a number of problems. If they are not solved, the renewable power generation that is only being in its infancy in the country may wither. This was discussed at a panel discussion of the Russian Energy Week in Moscow. Read more in the material of Realnoe Vremya.
RES in Russia is gaining fast pace
Thanks to the active joint work of the state and business, renewable power generation has already developed in Russia as an industry. This was discussed at a panel discussion.
''In the wholesale market of electric energy and power, the volume of introduced generation doubles year on year,'' First Deputy Energy Minister Alexey Teksler set a positive tone of the conversation. Last year, Russia introduced 140 MW of electric power. This year's expectations are 300 MW from renewable energy sources (RES). Out of these, one-third will be wind energy, two-thirds will be solar generation. Since the end of 2014, renewable power generation has surpassed traditional one — coal, gas and other generation.
According to Teksler, in isolated power areas, RES-based power plants and hybrid power plants are already beginning to replace traditional energy sources. The regulatory framework that will enable households to actively introduce renewable energy sources has already been completed. According to the ministry of energy, the main task of the development of ''green'' power generation in the country is to create its own technological and production base, capable in the future to expand the presence of Russian producers in the global energy arena. ''We have set ourselves ambitious goals and, of course, will strive to implement them,'' said Teksler.
The deputy minister noted that the main indicator — the specific CAPEX (capital expenditures – editor's note) — in renewable power generation is reducing. Last year, the figure was 35% for wind and 30% for solar energy. ''If in 2015 we paid 155 million rubles for 1 MW for wind, today it is slightly more than 57,'' stated the representative of the ministry of energy.
''A year ago, a friend of mine said: 'What? Wind power? The wind can be only in our pockets, nowhere else.' But today the industry has developed,'' joked Anatoly Chubais, Chairman of the management board of Rosnano. However, the speaker assesses the immediate prospects of the industry not without misgivings.
If we do not solve problems, renewable power generation in Russia will wither
''I'm telling about a difficult battle, which is being underway — CSA-2 (the programme of modernization of power generation on the basis of agreements on capacity supply agreements – editor's note) and the decisions to be taken in this area. We have carried out the work to understand — how much wind power, renewable energy in the country we need,'' Chubais said. From his point of view, it is categorically impossible to be limited to capacities which will enter until 2024. ''Because we need a self-replicating cluster with export potential, which includes generation, industry, science and education. If at least one component is absent, there will be no technology cluster in Russia. This means that after 2024, in the case if the adequate decision for the dissemination of CSA-2 is not taken, all developed renewable power generation in Russia will wither. Russia will simply lose the role of the global energy power after 2024,'' Chubais warned.
Other speakers also joined the conversation about the problems of the new industry. Director General of Khevel Group Igor Shakhray spoke about the difficulties of attracting finance to renewable power generation.
''We compete with companies with interest rates of 0,5-1%, sometimes they have free money. We urgently need support in raising capital. We have a very strict programme of cost reduction, we monitor each ruble to transform our cost,'' said Shakhray.
The representative of the non-profit partnership for the development of renewable energy Eurosolar Russia, Alexey Kaplun, complained about the lack of energy market in isolated areas. ''Until today, the projects of energy supply systems introduction in isolated areas remain separate, they are performed by enthusiasts. That is why our wholesale market is developed and the market of isolated areas is not. This is a problem. We are talking not only about economic efficiency, but also about the availability of energy infrastructure for a number of consumers. Reliability is not always a synonym of economic efficiency. There should be other incentives that will be based on RES objects. All countries with similar tasks have already embarked on this course,'' Kaplun said.
Director General of NovaWind Alexander Korchagin reported about a fall in revenue of equipment manufacturers for RES sector. ''The picture in the world has changed over two years. The cost of the turbines has fallen, and there has been no technological breakthrough that would significantly reduce it. Revenue of large wind power equipment manufacturers decreased by 30 per cent against the background of the growth of demand. Large customers of wind power projects are still large energy companies, but today it is shifting to the sector when companies order wind farms and power supply systems for themselves,'' the speaker shed light on the situation.
How to solve the problems of new power generation?
Having discussed the visible gaps, the experts moved to possible ways to solve the problems.
Chairman of the board of Non-commercial Partnership Sovet Rynka Maksim Bystrov suggested that the development of renewable energy generation in the areas with the lack of traditional energy resources is the most logical solution. ''In remote isolated areas there are all conditions for the payback of renewable energy projects,'' Bystrov said.
The speakers see the extension of the programme of RES CSA (the mechanism of return on investment in renewable power generation), cooperation with other countries in this area, ensuring exports and improving the competitiveness of renewable energy as possible solutions. In addition, it is necessary to maintain the demand for ''green energy''.
''We have consumers who are willing to pay more if they have ''green'' electrons. We look at the Western experience and, probably, we will create the mechanism that will allow to satisfy this voluntary demand,'' Bystrov told.
Another important point is the subsidizing of the loan interest rate. ''This is also a right and possible solution to the problem, which will reduce the cost of our projects. It's not a question of regulatory agreements for RES CSA, it is a wider problem,'' summed up Aleksey Teksler.
Eduard Galeyev Director General of TGC-16 JSC
The peculiarity of alternative energy is precisely in its strong dependence on external conditions. Each region may have its own type of renewable energy as a priority. For regions with a high degree of insolation — solar energy, as solar panels can be installed as close to consumers, which will significantly reduce the capital intensity of such projects. If we consider Tatarstan, the most effective here can be wind energy and, given the development of agriculture in the region, biogas.
The global trend is such that the cost of wind power plants is falling against the background of the increase in the cost of hydrocarbon fuel. These facts have a beneficial effect on the future development of wind energy. In our republic, certain survey works have already been carried out, the most promising sites for the so-called wind turbines have been identified. At the moment, wind farms are already operating in Bashkiria and Ulyanovsk Oblast — the regions similar in climatic and wind conditions to Tatarstan.
I believe that the main barrier today is the high cost of the construction of alternative energy facilities, which is also due to the low localization of production of power plants in Russia. To obtain the maximum effect, in addition to the development of the most unconventional energy, it is necessary to develop the production of plants for RES power plants. Besides, the development of renewable energy is constrained by uneven generation of electricity and its consumption. We need powerful energy storage, which is still very expensive and relatively low-power, so RES is currently reserved by traditional energy, which greatly reduces the efficiency of the power system. Everyone is waiting for new energy storage technologies, and then there will be a technological breakthrough.