The Russian Electricity Market Council has pre-approved 460 MW of PV solar projects for this year. About 900 MW was awarded for the years 2014 and 2013, but not much of it was actually constructed. Reportedly, the barrier has been a condition which requires the Russian solar power projects to use local materials, yet there isn’t a great number of solar panels being manufactured in Russia. The director of Russia’s Solar Energy Association (RASE), Anton Usachiv, said he believes the local content condition will be good for boosting domestic solar technology production, however.
Jenny Chase, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Head of Solar Analysis, explained some of the challenges by saying, “There are not that many companies actually manufacturing solar modules in Russia. The cratering of the Ruble made everything a bit harder.” An article on the Thomson Reuters Foundation site also says it isn’t that easy for individual homeowners to have solar panels installed and have them connected to the grid – a process that might take years.
For these reasons, and probably others, currently Russia’s installed solar power capacity is tiny: only 3 MW, according to an article posted on the Apricum Group website. However, a Cleantechnica article from 2014 said that Russia’s largest solar power plant had come online and had a 5 MW capacity. (Cleantechnica also detailed some of the work on solar power that has been going on in Russia recently to the tune of 59 MW.)
In 2014, Russia was the world’s largest producer of crude oil and one of the top producers of dry natural gas. Revenues associated with oil and natural gas made up 50% of the country’s federal budget revenues. Nuclear power is also prominent there, with about 34 reactors in operation.
One place where solar might make the most sense in Russia is in remote areas where people rely on diesel fuel to run generators, because this method of electricity generation can be expensive and creates a fair amount of noxious air pollution. “The plan isn’t to rival oil and gas, rather to deploy solar where it’s most useful. You can’t compete with 70 years of planning and infrastructure. You try to find a way to leapfrog problems to the front,” explained Hevel CEO Igor Akhmerov.
Image Credit: Wiki Commons, Julmin