When Vladimir Putin signed one of the first executive orders of 2016, on holding the Year of the Environment in the Russian federation in 2017, it was against the background of many prospective trends helpful to the expansion of renewable energy, as reported by Russia Direct.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference that was held in Paris in December 2015 established a new plan or framework of emissions reduction and provided hope for many environmental activists. Plus, the ongoing oil price slump renders many hydrocarbon production projects economically nonviable, further contributing to the growing appeal and demand for renewable energy.
Russia needs the agreement to be implemented rigorously and effectively due to its dismal state of environmental affairs. For the last 40 years, the average annual temperature in Russia has gone up by 0.04C/year, which is more than twice the global average. The country is also getting rainier and every decade, the average rainfall rises by 2%.
The environment is not a top priority on the economic and political agenda, but the omnipresent manifestations of environmental damage suggest that the time is now for a change of mindset. The annual sulphur dioxide emissions in Norilsk amount to almost 2 million tonnes. The industrial emissions of manganese are also showing no signs of going down and emit around 830 tonnes every year. Mercury emissions also doubled in 2014.
Russia’s territory size also present a challenge and some of its federal states don’t even have environment monitoring stations.
Moscow should take all the needed measures to take advantage of renewable energy. Russia has highly skilled workers that have vast experience and accomplishments of the Soviet Era. In fact, the Russian Empire was the first to build utility-scale wind turbines. In the post-Soviet period, the country built 7,000 small hydro-generating systems all throughout the country and put into operation the very first tidal electric plant.
As of 2015, renewable energy – excluding large hydro – accounted for less than 1% of the country’s power generation capacity. Viable wind resources are situated in the Pacific, Arctic, Caspian, Azov and Black seas. Although these promising locations are in no man’s land, many companies are doing feasibility studies.
Also, there are only 4 functioning wind power plants in Russia providing a combined capacity of roughly 15 megawatts. Within the last 2 years, solar energy production has grown in stature due to interest of businessmen close to the Kremlin. And during that time, solar has outperformed wind and geothermal power with an installed capacity of 1200 megawatts. Russia could also rival the United States in geothermal energy with a 3.4 gigawatts of power generation.