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Published on January 30th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

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Russia & Central Asia Could Hit 100% Renewable Electricity By 2030, Study Finds

January 30th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon

Study: Russia & Central Asian Neighbors Could Go 100% Renewables By 2030

Russia, along with its Central Asian neighbors, could hit the 100% renewable electricity mark as soon as 2030, while actually significantly cutting costs rather than increasing them, according to a new study from Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland.

According to the researchers, the cost of electricity from a renewable energy buildout in the area would be roughly half of that of new nuclear power plants, or fossil fuel plants outfitted with carbon capture + storage technology.

The buildout plan analyzed by the researchers would require the creation of a “super-grid,” though, it should be noted — in order to deal with differences in generation modality timing (solar generation peaks during the day, wind at night, etc). Notably, also, the study doesn’t examine heating or transportation.

Here’s more via Energy Transition:

Many of the countries in the area rely on the production and use of fossil fuels and nuclear power. As well as Russia, the researched area includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, as well as the Caucasus and Pamir regions including Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

…The modelled energy system is based on wind, hydropower, solar, biomass, and some geothermal energy. Wind amounts to about 60% of the production, while solar, biomass, and hydropower make up most of the rest.

The total installed capacity of renewable energy in the system in 2030 would be about 550 gigawatts. Slightly more than half of this would be wind energy, and one-fifth would be solar. The rest would be composed of hydro and biomass, supported with power-to-gas, pumped hydro storage, and batteries.

Currently, the total capacity is 388 gigawatts, of which wind and solar account for only 1.5 gigawatts. The current system also has neither power-to-gas capacity nor storage batteries. One of the key insights of the research is that energy sectors’ integration lowers the cost of electricity by 20% for Russia and Central Asia. When moving to a renewable energy system, for example, natural gas is replaced with power-to-gas, converting electricity into gases such as hydrogen and synthetic natural gas. This increases the overall need for renewable energy.

“We think that this is the first-ever 100% renewable energy system modelling for Russia and Central Asia,” stated Professor Christian Breyer, co-author of the new study. “It demonstrates that the region can become one of the most energy-competitive regions in the world.”

For more info, read the full Energy Transition article.

Image: solar power plant in Russia by Darya Ashanina (some rights reserved)

 
 
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  • Ben Around

    Total BS written by a shill for wind power company.

  • neroden

    It’s worth noting that the Russian and Central Asian power plants are mostly antiques, and so are their industrial factories. So there’s a lot of efficiency gains to be made very cheaply.

    • Mike Gitarev

      Central Asian – yes, but Russian was hardly upgraded last years and are not so ancient.

  • Mike Gitarev

    “The geographical area of the research − which did not include transport or heating − covers much of the northern hemisphere.”

    At least for Russia this “research” is complete bullshit. There are really big number of places, where fossil fuel burns only for heat, without bothering about extra electricity.

    Yes, wind and solar generation will be half price of nuclear, but authors keep silence about cost of “supergrid” – most abundant solar resources are far south, where are no population or factories.

    • neroden

      Huh? There’s lots of population and factories in the far south of Russia, if you mean the Caucasus or the Black Sea coast. Not enough to feed energy back to all of the stuff in the north, but enough to make a difference.

      Meanwhile, Central Asia has better solar resources than Russia and its population is concentrated towards the southern border of the former USSR.

    • eveee

      Does the study explicitly state transport and heating are excluded or does it just say its electricity only?
      From a read of the text it doesn’t look like the authors are silent about HVDC costs. Quite the contrary.

      There is copious economic discussion. The values for HVDC economics are in Table 1.
      Full system costs are derived from the input data, including generation, also in Table 1.

      http://www.lut.fi/documents/10633/70751/Breyer2015-published-paper-North-East+Asian-Super-Grid.pdf/902ca273-b385-49ed-b7c4-0f8cec0bec47

      • Mike Gitarev

        This report is about North-West Asia, there are no words about Russia.
        Asia have 1.5 billion people and 6000 TWh electricity consumption.
        Russia have 0.15 billion people and 1050TWh electricity.
        May I please ask you to compare territory and lenght of HV(AC/DC) lines of these two regions by yourself?

        • eveee

          Yes The report really isn’t about Russia. The headline isn’t right. The area considered is China and Japan, Mongolia.
          I thought your cost of super grid referred to the paper, not the article or its headline.

          • Mike Gitarev

            Just read report about Russia. They are seriously considering CSP (concentrated solar). As far as I know it’s already about twice more expensive than PV and there are no known ways to make it much cheaper.
            Also they assume +€1/kW as OPEX for PV single-axis tracker, too good to be true.

  • eveee

    This study adds to the recent NOAA study. Both show high renewables integration can be achieved rapidly and result in greatly lowered carbon emissions at lower cost.
    http://cleantechnica.com/2016/01/26/us-cut-energy-produced-emissions-78-15-years-noaa/

  • Harry Johnson

    Cheap oil is killing the oil-dependent Russian economy and Western Europeans are looking elsewhere for their natural gas needs. Putin should realize he could make billions more by taking advantage of all the space his neighbors to the west don’t have. The vast Russian plains could easily provide clean wind energy to EU nations trying to cut their emissions. Germany is coal dependent and shutting down their nuclear plants. Russia could sell the Germans all the clean energy needed to make up the difference.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The problem with that idea is that transmission lines are less common than “windows on the sea”. It would be easier to replace a fossil fuel supplier than an electricity supplier. I doubt other European countries would want to put themselves dependent on Russian electricity after seeing how Russia is willing to play hardball politics and use the natural gas supply as a weapon.

      • Harry Johnson

        Putin won’t be around forever.

        • Bob_Wallace

          True. But country to country relations do ‘go sour’. Countries are going to have to game out the risk of relying on another country being their electricity source.

          • Harry Johnson

            So Denmark should sever those cables to Norway?

  • Freddy D

    Very encouraging that there is at least discussion of these oil and gas-rich places considering renewables.

    So if these nations can engage in such visionary dialog, someone tell me again why western European nations, with the rich economic, scientific, and engineering expertise, aren’t managing to use massive renewable deployments to get fully off of Russian gas right now?

    • nitpicker357

      Alas, this is a report out of Finland. Central Asia is being discussed, but it isn’t taking part in the discussion. Renewables are growing spottily in Europe. Impatience is appropriate, but since they don’t internalize the costs of emissions, and since policy cues are … variable, the rate of modernization is slower than it might be.

      • neroden

        The Central Asian republics (the ‘stans’) are probably open-minded enough to consider serious solar and wind deployment.

        Russia itself? I doubt it, unfortunately; Putin is quite tied to fossil fuels.

    • Ross

      Putin signed a supply agreement with China recently so Europe should be a little less complacent about an extended supply disruption.

  • momentum24

    Completely unrealistic, absurd even. What’s going to happen to Putin’s ‘Fossil energy Empire” under this scenario? There’s a lot of talk on this site about politicians’ vested interest in the traditional energy sector in the West. Magnify it by the factor of 10 or 100 – there’s your ACTUAL situation in the Russian ‘Resource’ Federation.

    • Freddy D

      At least it’s dialog, which is more than there was before. Furthermore, wind power is just free money to some of these countries.

      Regardless, your point is well taken – All of this dialog is well and good as long as the fossil fuel revenue continues for these places. Interestingly, in the middle-east and central asia / far eastern europe, they may make more money generating power with wind/solar and selling the fossil fuels. That burned at home doesn’t bring in foreign currency.

      • nitpicker357

        What you said. The richer Middle Eastern countries are investing heavily in solar, because 1) they are in a prime area for solar, 2) it frees up oil production for export, and 3) renewables are just an excellent investment. Russia doesn’t have abundant money begging to be reinvested internally, but multiplying their wind production by 15 or so is an obvious good investment to the extent that their economy is working. Russia does not appear to have an efficient economy, though.

        • eveee

          You left out several other reasons, including that they can see the writing on the wall for oil.

    • eveee

      That FF based policy is faring badly for Putin right now. Low oil prices mean Russias budget is negative. Putin is trying to get OPEC to reduce oil production. Thats the scenario. Putin can prefer oil and gas all he wants, but its not working.
      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/25/russias-gdp-falls-37-as-sanctions-and-low-oil-price-take-effect

  • omar

    Bearning fossil fuel produces co2 and heat, by capturing co2 you solve only one problem because you didn’t capture the heat spread out by the radiators in the air

    • Andre Needham

      Waste heat from combustion of fossil fuels is only 1% of the heating seen with global warming. The ability of CO2 to trap heat from the sun is the other 99%. See: https://www.skepticalscience.com/waste-heat-global-warming.htm

      • Shane 2

        I can’t emphasise the importance of Andre’s post enough. I hate the junk science of those who claim that the direct heat from thermal such as burning fuel or geothermal is anything other than a tiny proportion of the warming problem. We have enough trouble with junk science from the AGW sceptics. There is a reason that climate scientists are not saying the direct heat from burning (or a future expanded geothermal industry) is a major contribution to the problem: Because it isn’t! Get lost junk science! The magnitude of solar energy inflow to the earth is so vast that even a small decrease in radiation back into space (due to CO2 increase) causes a major problem.
        This is not to say that local heat island effects are not problems. They are. But they are of little significance on a global scale.
        Get lost junk science.

        • dhm

          Um, no. It’s not heat from the burning of fossil fuels that contributes to warming; it’s the CO2. You are not even remotely close to knowing what you’re talking about. So before you accuse real, adult scientists who have been doing real science for decades, put down your Mr. Science kit and learn yourself something.

          • Shane 2

            What the …?
            “It’s not heat from the burning of fossil fuels that contributes to warming”
            That is what I said! As for your pathetic comment on my science credentials, I am a scientist. I have a Ph.D. in chemistry and have carried out research at four universities. What is your science background?

      • Ross

        I accept that if it is the peer reviewed scientific consensus. I’m amazed to hear that it is as high as 1%. Would like to see more information on that. It seems incredible the waste heat warming would be as much as 1% compared to the greenhouse effect heat retention given the vast amount of incoming energy from the Sun.

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