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

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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