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1 Oct, 2009 17:42

Drive for energy efficiency to change consumer thinking

President Dmitry Medvedev has called for a 40% boost to Russia's energy efficiency. But experts say political will and modern technologies are not enough if Russia is to become a prudent energy consumer.

Moving from words to deeds – That’s what President Medvedev this week said the government has to do. To stop being one of the least energy-efficient industrialized nations.

“Expert say Russia can do this using existing technologies. It can close this gap.”

But technologies alone may not be enough. While Russia wastes more than 50% of the heat it produces, market players such as Dominique Fasche, Chairman of Enel-OGK5, say low energy tariffs make boosting energy efficiency all but a dream.

"With the price of the megawatt today there's no energy saving policy which can be implemented in Russia. My position is quite simple – raise the tariff and there'll be some kind of result."

The State Duma would is ready to approve the second reading of the law on higher energy efficiency and energy saving. It would forbid households from using 100-watt light bulbs starting in 2011, and all energy-inefficient bulbs in five years.

But may experts say the move would benefit energy producers, but would not cut consumers energy bills. Trust Bank’s Chief Economist, Evgeny Nadorshin, disagrees.

"Consumers should benefit sooner or later because either they will get more energy efficient goods, which is good: not only produce, but also they will consume less energy. So, that's already an improvement as you pay less on your bills every month. That's already a benefit."

The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that moving to energy efficiency would require, first and foremost, a tectonic shift in the Russian mentality.