Russia to squeeze its renewables development budget

Despite the global renewables boom, Russia is going to reduce spending on the national programme for the development of green energy. However, the cuts could have been worse, and large corporations are implementing their own plans to reduce carbon emissions.

Russia’s next phase of renewable energy development may receive less funding from the state than planned, says bneIntelliNews citing Kommersant. The government is likely to cut its budget allocated for renewables development by 22% to 313 billion rubles ($4,2 billion) in 2025-2035. The Ministry of Economy sought greater cuts, but the Ministry of Energy managed to defend the programme.

Russia has long been one of the world’s largest CO2 emitters. The country has abundant conventional energy resources, such as oil, gas and coal, which make it difficult both politically and economically to diversify the economy away from heavy extractive industries. Thus, its renewables programme is often underestimated, although it has practical purposes from developing localised equipment to creating manufacturing jobs. Besides, there are gaps in the power grid across Russia’s 11 time zones where renewables can generate power competitively.

Wind farm in Crimea. Photo: Olgacrimea

While expectations for renewables in Russia are pretty marginal, large corporates are making their steps in sustainability. Most recently, Russia’s key petrochemical company Sibur announced a carbon monitoring project in Tyumen, a core Siberian oil production region. The carbon monitoring centre will monitor emission levels and research potential biological solutions that can increase CO2 removal and offset human emissions, such as enhanced forestry management. The centre will be part of a national network aimed to observe the effectiveness of these solutions and improve strategies at a regional or national level. The research is essential for an accurate assessment of Russia’s overall CO2 capacity. Sibur ranked 8th in the list of Russia’s most eco-friendly companies published by Forbes last month. The petrochemical giant aggregates and processes by-product gas at oilfields, which most other companies are burning off.

Nordgold, a gold mining company operating in Russia, has also taken steps to make its business more environmentally friendly. On 18 March, the mining company announced committing itself to achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

The public sector is also starting to act: in February, the regional government of Sakhalin announced plans to set up an emissions trading scheme in a bid to hit net-zero emissions by 2025. In case of success, the plan, which was approved by the Kremlin, can be extended to other Russian regions.

By Anna Litvina