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100% RESs Is Not a Problem for Russia

Scholars of the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT, Finland) have developed a model for Russia and Central Asian countries which proves the possibility of implementing operation of energy systems at the account of renewable energy sources. By experts’ opinion, transfer of the region to 100% consumption of renewable energy by 2030 is an absolutely realistic goal.

The geographic region embraced by the authors of the study covers the major part of the northern hemisphere... Besides Russia, it includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, as well Caucuses and Pamir areas including Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The model did not take transportation and heating into account.

"We believe that this is the first ever model showing the possibility of 100% energy provision of the region of Russia and Central Asia at the account of renewable energy. It shows that Russia can turn into one of the best energetically competitive regions of the world,” Christian Breyer, one of the authors of the study, says.

Scholars from the Finnish University expect that such system should be able to operate at the account of solar and geothermal energy, the wind (60% of the entire energy), the water, and the biomass. The total energy capacity should amount to 550 GWt which, according to the model, exceeds the actual capacity of the regional energy system by 162 GWt.

The more capacities for renewable energy production are built, the more they could be used in various economic sectors: heating, transport, and industry. The flexibility of the system reduces storing needs and, respectively, expenses. The study carried out by Finnish scholars shows how various world regions can convert from fossil to renewable energy sources. It shows that the only barrier for using RESs is lack of political will and not the availability of know-hows.

The academics are sure that examination of the RESs potential is particularly essential for the region, because the effects of global warming have already emerged and governments started to understand the dangers of climate changes and advantages of renewable energy sources. Disbenefits caused by losses of glaciers and permafrost are huge. Countries with low incomes and mountain areas, e.g., Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are particularly vulnerable, because to a very big extent they depend upon hydro power energy.

Academics believe that, despite clear prospects, the majority of countries in the region are negatively affected by the lack of transparency in their governments and insufficient control from the part of nature-protecting groups. They acknowledge that most of the governments have officially adopted the policy focused on production of renewable energy, including tariff privileges; however, subsidies for fossil fuels are so high that they inhibit development of renewable energy sources.

RESs development plans in Russia do exist. However, their financial support is far behind verbal ambitions: until 2035, Russia is planning to invest $53 bln in renewable energy sources, while investments in the nuclear power production are estimated at $220 bln, the coal power production at $95 bln, and investments in oil and gas exceed two trillion US dollars.

The RESs quota in the Russian energy is in the arrears of even less well-to-do country’s neighbors: it amounts to 0.1%, while, for example, in Kazakhstan it amounts to 1%, and to 3% in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Representatives of public environmental organizations have not once stressed the necessity and prospects of RESs development in Russia. They wrote in their Position: "We stand for the re-routing of subsidies from fossil fuels towards renewables and energy efficiency, while providing assistance to vulnerable social groups and creating green jobs.”