CityMagazine journalists examined 4 natural resources —the sun, air, water, and soil — as an environment for profitable investment. Renewable energy sources (RES) have become dominant, and, for the first time in history, investment in renewable energy in developing countries exceeded that of advanced economies, the magazine asserts. The Analytical Center expert Irina Pominova described the prospects of the renewable energy sources development in Russia.
Renewable Energy Sources can compete with conventional resources
The role of renewable energy in the Russian energy sector remains very modest, Ms. Pominova notes. "The situation is adversely affected by the presence of a broad base of conventional resources and, until recently, insufficient state support," she said. However, some successfully developed areas of RES, such as solar and wind energy resources, are already able to compete with conventional resources.
The development of policies to support alternative renewable energy sources in Russia began only in the 2010s. "In 2013, a mechanism was introduced to support wind, solar and small hydroelectric power stations in the wholesale power and capacity market, and in 2015, such supportive measures were taken in the retail market as well. The requirement for localization (use of a certain share of domestic equipment) was an important condition for the provision of state support for RES in Russia. However, there are problems related to technological limitations, the fall in energy prices and the devaluation of the national currency etc., the expert said.
In Russia, RES is mainly considered as a direction for technological development and an effective solution for remote and isolated regions. According to the State Program on Energy Efficiency and Energy Development it is expected that the contribution of alternative renewable energy sources to the Russian electricity production will reach 2.5% by 2020 (against 1.1% in 2013).
Renewable energy technologies do not stand still. "Among the interesting achievements I would like to highlight floating wind farms," added Irina Pominova. "The first practical implementation of such a project is currently under way off the coast of Scotland, the opening is scheduled for 2017". As for the element of Earth — investors also have enough space to take root in the related sector of RES. "Firstly, it is geothermal energy — the heat energy coming from the Earth's interior. Geothermal energy resources can be used where they are close to the earth's surface — in areas of seismic and volcanic activity," says Irina Pominova. "This sector is developed in Indonesia, the US and the Philippines. Secondly, these may partly include alternative bioenergy, which combines the use of solid (wood pellets, briquettes), liquid (biodiesel, bioethanol) and gaseous (biogas) biofuels." There are also geographical preferences. Thus, according to Ms. Pominova, wind power can be used primarily in the Far East, the Kaliningrad region and the Republic of Kalmykia, the development of geothermal energy sources is promising in Kamchatka and the North Caucasus, whereas the development of solar energy seems to the most promising in the North Caucasus, Krasnodar Krai, Southern Siberia and in the Far East.