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10 Aug, 2009 07:08

Russian wind power blows in to energy gap

Renewable energy producers are lining up to invest billions of dollars in wind power projects in Russia, though Russian power generation has long been dominated by hydro-carbons, nuclear and hydro-electric schemes.

Russia’s centralized power systems cover only one third of the country's territory, leaving more than 20 million people without mains electricity supply.

Russia’s South, North West and the Far East are among the areas poorly connected to the power grid, but their coastline offers huge potential for wind power.

Canada's Greta Energy plans to invest up to €250 million in its first wind farm, on Russia's south coast, next year. And the company hopes to make a return on investment in about 7 years with Gennady Ermolenko, Regional Director at Greta Energy, saying Russia has great wind power potential.

“There’s the energy commission, the European energy commission. So they make predictions what to wait from what country. So, for Russian Federation and other Soviet countries, they estimate that we could take up more than 15% of World wind market.”

Russia's RusHydro is the leading domestic developer. Earlier this year it signed a deal with Japanese investors to build a $100 million wind farm off Vladivostok. Gordon Edge, Chairman at the British Wind Energy Association says one of the benefits of wind power is that generation costs are predictable.

“Fuel is for free. So once you set it up, you know exactly what it costs, which is one of the benefits that isn’t recognized very much.”

Russia plans to build enough wind farms to supply 7 Gigawatts of power by 2020, which is sufficient for several regions. According to the state program on use of renewables, green energy should make up 4.5% of the country’s energy balance by then