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Oil-Rich Russia Works To Increase Renewable Energy Share… A Bit

The Energy Ministry of Russia has submitted a draft law to Dmitri Medvedev that is intended to support the deployment of renewable energy sources, including solar power, wind power, and hydroelectric power.

Flag of Russia.

Russian Flag.
Image Credit: Giocomai from Flickr.

Russia failed to meet its 2010 renewable energy target, which was to obtain 1.5% of the country’s electricity demand from renewable power plants. (In 2011, it had yet to reach 1%.)

There are currently no details available about tariffs for specific technologies. Notably, however, the new law promises a 14% return on investment. And the electricity will be bought through Power Purchase Agreements.

If approved, this project would cost 85 billion rubles (approximately $2,716,396,000 or €2 billion). It is an incentive scheme that will prioritize projects that are in line with a local content requirement.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are some of the largest petroleum (oil) exporters in the entire world. They are each in the top 8 of petroleum producers. Yet they acknowledge the environmental consequences of using petroleum, and the UAE especially is aggressively pursuing solar and wind energy.

Some may wonder why Russia and the other two Arabian countries would bother to pursue this, since they have so much oil they could use.

There are two key reasons, as far as I can see:

  1. Climate change, air, and water pollution (smog air pollution leads to water pollution). Smog is destructive to public health, and is therefore unacceptable;
  2. The less oil these countries use, the more they can export, hence increasing foreign exchange revenue and massive petroleum-derived profits.

Norway has already gotten pretty far compared to the rest of the world, and it is another major oil exporter. It has one of the strongest electric car markets, and it uses little to no oil to generate electricity.

This new plan’s target is for Russia to obtain 2% to 2.5% of its electricity from renewable sources, or 6 GW of installed capacity, by 2020. Hardly a large amount, but it is movement.

The draft law was supposed to be approved by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday, April 25, but there is currently no word about the matter in English media.

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