The Moscow Times writes that a “tsunami” of projects and funding in renewable energy technology is about to unleash in Russia. The World Bank will start a multimillion-dollar “greenfield program” of consulting and investment with some USD165 million. The IFC has set aside another USD150 million for direct investment, and another USD5 million could be contributed from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. A framework of legislation accelerating the move towards sustainable energy technologies will be facilitated by the Global Environment Facility with a further USD10 million.
It is no coincidence that Russia has been chosen for the implementation of the “greenfield program”. Russia is the fourth-largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world and at the moment generates 220 GW of electric power of which 68% come from fossil sources and less than 1% from renewable sources. Yet Russia is huge in territory and is expected to have an “unparalleled” potential in renewables. By 2020 the share of electricity from renewable energy technologies is to increase to 4,5 %, by 2030 the MacKenzie consulting firm calculates this share to grow to 7,5%. The “greenfield program” investment will focus strongly in biomass and windpower, but other technologies will also be supported. About 30 projects are already lined up for the next five years. Investment into biomass is likely to be concentrated in the south of the country whereas windpower can be exploited in the southern and north-eastern parts of Russia. Explicit regions have not been chosen yet.
A five-year program is outlining plans for the installation of 205 MW of renewable generation capacity and could cut GHG emissions by 5 million tons a year. In the longer run, follow-up project will hopefully save up to 200 million tons of GHG emissions.
Apart from supporting such specific project much emphasis is going towards introducing a framework with many incentives for the implementation of new technologies. So far the system is rather vague, and the Russian government is keen to develop new regulations. Access to financing is another way to increase the impact of low emission ways to produce energy on top of direct funding.
It is expected that such a framework will bring forward independent “ideas, investments and initiatives” that will have a much wider environmental impact.
The biggest challenge is not the technology with is ready nor the natural resources of Russia, but to overcome Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s scepticism.
“Take the windmills that are very common in many European countries,” Putin said at a news conference last week in Khabarovsk. “It would seem that they are a really environmental form of energy, but it’s not so. They kill birds, and there is so much vibration that worms crawl out of the ground, not to mention all sorts of moles.”
Hopefully Putin will see the undeniable multiple benefits of the implementation of renewable energy technologies and support this important program.