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"They start to count - and do not return"

Why do investors choose regions with better infrastructure, and this is not the Far East

In November, the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation presented the first in the recent history "Rating of the efficiency of heat supply to the regions." The successes or failures of territories in solving key problems in this area were evaluated by several groups of indicators. The first is the work on updating the heat supply schemes, with an increase in the share of heat production in the combined cycle. The second is an activity to reduce fuel consumption, losses in the heating network, accidents. The third is the closure of open hot water supply systems, the share of modern pipes and heat insulation, and the equipment with individual heating points and metering devices in the residential sector.

"They start to count - and do not return"
Photo: courtesy of Alexei Bondar
The top lines in the rating of the Ministry of Energy took the Republic of Tatarstan, the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug, Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Leningrad, Lipetsk and Murmansk regions. Among the outsiders are the republics of the North Caucasus, the regions of the Far East, the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the Republic of Tyva, the Chukotka Autonomous Region, as well as the youngest subjects of the Russian Federation - the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol. Alexey Bondar, director of the Primorsky branch of the Russian Energy Agency Russian Ministry of Energy, an authorized representative of the agency in the Far Eastern Federal District, told EastRussia why the Far Eastern regions were at the tail of the rating.
- Why did the regions of the Far East get to the bottom of the heat supply efficiency rating first compiled by the Ministry of Energy?
- To answer this question, it is first of all necessary to understand that the heat supply systems in the Far East differ from those in other regions, and above all in the regions of the central part of Russia. We have a much lower population density. Below is the density of settlements. Almost all of them are not large in size and are located at a considerable distance from each other. And a large length of networks requires more personnel per unit of length or power. Because of the low density of consumers of thermal energy and low density of heat supply systems, heat supply organizations bear additional costs for their maintenance. And this is only one of the consequences raising the question of the profitability of exploitation. Unfortunately, our heat supply organizations can not boast of high economic indicators. This is the first time. And from it follows the second - it is very difficult to attract investments into heat supply systems with such characteristics.
Another important factor is that the fuel component in the tariff grows at rates exceeding the overall growth of this indicator. As a result, components related to repair and maintenance are forced out of it.
- Low profitability - the only factor that prevents investors from attracting?
- Investors are also stopped by the state of the communal infrastructure - heating networks, boiler and auxiliary equipment. The state is determined by two factors - the degree of deterioration and the rate of renovation. All regions of Russia face the problem of high deterioration of heating networks. Therefore, not even wear is more important, but the pace of renovation. In the Far East, they are lower than in the average region of the country. In accordance with the standards, the rate of renovation in Russia should be 5-7% of the total volume of heating networks per year, in the most prosperous regions this figure reaches 12-15%. And our renovation rate is only 1,5-3%. I can explain how small this figure is by the example of Primorsky Krai. In the region, more than 500 km of heat networks in the municipal energy sector, and over the year, it is possible to carry out a major overhaul of only 5 km of them. This is too little. Because of this, the state of the systems is generally deteriorating.
- But after all, investors are needed to solve the problem with the lack of financing for repairs?
- On the one hand, it is even profitable for investors to enter a region where the condition of the thermal infrastructure is poor. But the Far East competes for investment resources with all regions of Russia. And the condition of heat networks here is so bad that investors choose other regions where heat systems are more reliable than ours. After all, there are not so many investors in our country who are willing to direct money for the development of heat generation to solve this issue throughout the country. And, unfortunately, while the Far East is losing in this respect to territories where the condition of the thermal infrastructure is better, the population density is higher, and its solvency is greater.

And nevertheless, we constantly work on attracting potential investors. We are working on a variety of options in the framework of the initiatives of the Ministry of Energy of Russia, the Ministry of Construction and Housing of Russia, the administrations of the Far Eastern regions, the Public Council for Housing and Communal Services quality, and the Russian Energy Agency. We invite investors who have implemented projects in other regions. All show, provide technical data, give the necessary information ... Investors look, and then leave, start to count - and do not return. In the suburbs and in Siberia they work to work, but in the Far East, unfortunately, not yet. But we are working on it.
- Is it possible to reverse the situation with the help of state support?
- All federal state programs to support the heat and power industry are now focused solely on working with investors. They consist in subsidizing interest rates on concession agreements and in subsidies for the development of project documentation for concluding concession agreements. This is all that the state is ready to allocate funds for today. Other support measures are not provided. Of course, we should not forget about regional targeted programs. This is the main tool, due to which modernization of the municipal energy infrastructure is taking place today. So, in Primorye, the regional program, adopted in 2012 year, is working. Previously, the amount of financing within its framework was 1,7-1,5 billion rubles a year, and now it is allocated about 400-500 million rubles annually.
- This money goes, including, and on the development of thermal infrastructure?
- Basically, this means for the restoration and repair of heating systems. To maintain the necessary level of heat supply to settlements with a stable number of residents. If we talk about the development of thermal infrastructure, then, first of all, it occurs where there is a significant increase in the volume of heat consumption. These are TOPs - territories of advanced development. There everything is new, from scratch.
- Do you agree that one of the most promising types of heat generation for the Far East is a mini-CHP based on gas turbine installations?
- Three such gas turbine CHP plants have already been built - in Vladivostok, on Russky Island. The main generating equipment for them was supplied by the Japanese corporation Kawasaki Heavy Industries. And this is not the only project implemented with the participation of foreign partners. In Vladivostok, the Vostochnaya thermal power station is currently under construction, which will operate on gas turbine installations and equipment from General Electric. Putting this station into operation will help to remove peak loads in the city. The decision to construct these facilities was taken to make Vladivostok the center of international cooperation, where, among other things, APEC events will be held. So, of course, there is development, but only in isolated points with an acute shortage of consumption. In general, this is not enough.
It should be noted that the development of the energy infrastructure should always go ahead. In order for a new microdistrict or new territory of TOR to appear, it is first necessary to ensure the supply of electrical energy, the required amount of thermal energy and, of course, water. Without this, it is difficult to begin construction, and even more so, settlement or operation.
- But in the end the situation develops, as with the above-mentioned mini-CHPP on Russky Island. Today they are loaded only 40-50% ...
- And that's fine. I emphasize once again: energy infrastructure facilities should always be built at a faster pace. They built a campus of the Far Eastern Federal University on the island - they also built energy capacities not only sufficient for it, but also to provide the second stage of campus development, the design of which is just beginning. Its construction was supposed to start after the university buildings were sold on the mainland. A development program was developed. But then 2014 happened a year, and the economic situation changed. The refinancing rate has risen, anti-Russian sanctions have been introduced in terms of long-term financing - this and much more have significantly affected the situation with the construction of the second phase. And the energy infrastructure is built.
But this is not the case everywhere. For example, in the suburb of Vladivostok in the village of Trudovoye, where a new microdistrict “Solnechnaya Dolina Vladivostok” is being built, designed for 50 inhabitants, a new CHP was envisaged. However, the power engineers did not start its design and construction. Therefore, now the construction of the microdistrict is already 000 years behind the planned schedule.
For us, the main thing is that the obligations of the power engineers were fulfilled, and at a faster pace. And here, by the way, we again return to the issue of high depreciation of generating capacity. Indeed, the main thermal power plants of large energy, which now produce energy in the Far East, built 50, 60, and some 70 years ago. Their resource is exhausted. In Khabarovsk, the issue of decommissioning the plant, which has already worked more than 70 years and requires replacement, is currently being worked out. The construction project of a new CHP is being discussed, but when it will be implemented is not clear. Similar projects are also being discussed in Vladivostok, but there is no real need for them.
- And where is the opposite situation in the Far East today: production is being created, and the power capacity is not enough to ensure their work?
- There is no global deficit in the Far East. There is only a local - mostly in the Torah. In the Khabarovsk Territory, for example, this is the city of Komsomolsk. In the Primorsky Territory - Bolshoy Kamen and the suburbs of Vladivostok. In the Amur Region - the "Free" TOR, where a huge gas processing plant is being built. The emergence of new enterprises means an increase in the number of employees, and hence the number of residents in communities. A serious increase in both electrical and thermal capacity is required. And these issues are resolved, which does not change the situation with heat and power supply to other settlements of the Far East, which did not receive the status of TOP.
- Positions in the lower part of the rating the Far Eastern regions occupied  and because of the high losses in the heat networks. Than they are caused?
- High heat loss is always a poor quality of thermal insulation. When the insulation becomes unusable, you need to repair it. Or it is necessary to completely shift the pipes to insulated ones using new technologies. Of course, the second option is preferable. Especially now, when new technologies are available: the pipes no longer need to be wrapped with insulation and covered with a thin sheet of iron, which then someone will definitely try to tear off and drag off. Preinsulated pipes are now produced, with finished insulation made of polyurethane foam or fiberglass, which no one can steal. But the lack of money for renovation, underfunding - I have already spoken about all this. New technologies are available only to regions where the renovation rate is 10-15% per year. Where are the normal fees from energy consumers and where they managed to attract investors. And with our 1-1,5%, we can only partially, not fully, repair what is broken. Observe how the state of the energy infrastructure is gradually deteriorating and put up with the fact that investors choose regions where it is in the best condition.
- there is hope, that the situation will change for the better?
- In accordance with the course of the leadership of Russia, the Far East should develop at a faster pace. Conditions must be created here so that residents of other regions of the country want to move to the Far East. So, the actions of all the participants should be coordinated, and the energy sector has the most important role. On the eve of their professional holiday, we wish them health, success and trouble-free work. And, of course, investors willing to participate in the development of heat supply in the Far East of Russia.
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