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Towards the sun and the wind
19 on 21 June in Yakutsk will host II International Conference "Renewable energy in isolated systems of the Russian Far East"
- Alexey Alexandrovich, a year ago the First International Conference "Renewable Energy in Isolated Systems of the Far East of Russia" was held and you announced a comprehensive program of "RAO ES of the East" on the development of renewable energy. How is this work going? Is the company ready to move from pilot projects to the widespread introduction of new technologies for renewable generation?
- We have begun to implement this program and in general we already understand what, where and how we will build. At the stage of elaboration, the question is - with whom we will cooperate on our projects, and here we have a lot of proposals both within the country and from abroad. Of course, we continue to add additional touches to the program, and therefore the most active phase of its implementation will begin closer to autumn this year.
- Tell us, please, in more detail - what is this program, how many objects are planned to be built and where will they be located?
- Why are these regions attractive, what renewable energy facilities do they need?
- The greatest potential we see in Yakutia, there are quite serious opportunities associated with solar energy (obtaining electricity or heat from solar energy - approx. red). Primorye are solar stations and wind turbines, Kamchatka - windmills and mini-hydroelectric power stations. We associate Sakhalin with wind generation, the first project is under implementation. Chukotka is mainly wind generation.
- Last year a large project was announced - a solar station in the Yakut village of Batagai. At what stage is this project now?
- We are designing. Taking into account the fact that a large station beyond the Arctic Circle is the first project of its kind in the country, we connected not only our designers, but also specialists from Germany, a country with solid competences in the construction of solar parks. Now we are actively working on the site, we are watching and assessing the construction and installation works. We understand how this should work in permafrost conditions and try to make it so that this project is the most interesting for us from the point of view of efficiency and payback.
- In which year do you plan to enter the station?
- Now we are talking about 2015.
- What difficulties arise in the implementation of such projects?
- "RAO ES of the East" concluded a number of agreements with the regions, providing for joint work on the introduction of renewable energy. Do the regions help you in the implementation of relevant projects?
- Concluding agreements, we are striving to solve two important tasks. The first is related to investments. If we involve an investor, then he must clearly understand the mechanism and timing of the return of his investments. Now the tariff setting is carried out for a year. Proceeding from the fact that we have the general principle of energy efficiency as the basis of the project economy, that is, saving on the fuel component in the tariff, we must receive this savings within five to ten to fifteen years, depending on the project. To do this, we need to agree with the region - "yes, we are together on this path and fix a fuel component for a certain payback period of the project." Therefore, we should sign agreements with those regions that understand the essence of such a project, agree with it, and then from year to year we will receive the planned savings in order to pay back the investment and not disappoint the investor.
Our second task was formed at the initial stage of work on the program, when we focused on our diesel stations. At the same time, the municipal stations that need to be reconstructed, which can be used in project implementation, fell into the company's sphere of interest. But after all, we cannot implement projects at municipal facilities. Accordingly, we need to move to another plane - to go through a concession, or in other ways to get this property for rent, so that in the future we can modernize it and together with the region implement renewable energy projects that will allow both us and the region to receive tangible benefits. We are following this path with Yakutia, discussing this option with Primorye, Kamchatka and Khabarovsk. This is quite a promising direction, it allows us to expand the areola of the program, including at the expense of municipalities.
These are the two tasks that we seek to accomplish by entering into agreements with the regions. For example, we build the station in Batagay on the basis of such an agreement - we agreed to co-finance the project. Moreover, we are already discussing with our partners a few more stations that will be implemented on the principle of shared financial participation.
- What other sources of funding for the program are you considering?
- Who are your main partners in the work on renewable generation projects. What requirements do you have for them?
- Here we start from technology. And if for solar panels we have already decided on the typical technology that we will use, then in relation to wind generation there may be several such technologies. For example, the natural conditions of Kamchatka differ from those of Yakutia: in one case, it is necessary to take into account a strong gusty wind in the main equipment, in the other case - the Arctic version. Somewhere we will use equipment that will require the participation of cranes, and in other places there should be self-lifting equipment, since these cranes simply cannot be brought to some territories. Each project is purely individual, and therefore it is impossible, and wrong, to approach everyone with a single measure. This explains the fact that we are negotiating with a large number of potential partners, whose equipment is suitable for the implementation of certain projects. In March, we signed an agreement with Japanese companies Mitsui & Co and Komai Haltec Inc., with whom we will work on a project to install wind turbines in Ust-Kamchatsk. The Japanese colleagues are well aware that if they cope with this task perfectly, they will acquire a serious sales market. Their neighbors are showing no less interest - we have signed several agreements with Chinese companies and, more recently, with Korean partners. We are seeing great interest from foreign companies in the development of renewable energy in the Far East. We have very serious prospects that attract potential foreign partners.
- And who else from foreign manufacturers, in addition to representatives from countries of the Asia-Pacific region, is interested in a partnership on renewable energy projects implemented by RAO Energy Systems of the East?
- Did the recent political events affect your relations with European partners?
- No, all people are reasonable, they understand that politics is politics, and business is business.
- The activity of foreign colleagues is obvious. And what about the Russian producers, are you ready to work with them?
- By mentioning biogeneration, you said that this technology will not be used in the territory of the Far Eastern Federal District. Why?
- As for the natural potential of the Far East, here you can talk about different types of biofuels: timber products, garbage, peat. The only problem is - besides the natural potential, there must be an economic potential, but it is not. The fact is that in those territories where there is a sufficient amount of biofuel and there is an infrastructure for its processing and preparation, the economy does not allow to compete with the big energy: traditional generation does not leave any energy facilities on biofuel any chance. And in isolated areas either there are no resources, or there is no infrastructure for their qualitative preparation, and therefore everything needs to be created from scratch, which for us, of course, can not be economically expedient. That is why we assume that as individual solutions for individual tasks, individual biofuel projects with separate economic and tariff solutions are possible. But as a system, unlike solar and wind generation, we are not currently considering them.
- What changes are necessary for legislation to develop a business related to renewable energy in the regions and in Russia as a whole?
- The isolated regions of the Far East differ from the European part of Russia with respect to renewable energy projects in that, with a slightly higher specific cost compared to traditional energy, they can be economically efficient and do not require government subsidies. In the case of renewable energy, we went a different way - we do not ask for subsidies from the state and the regions, but we say to them: “Colleagues, the fuel is now expensive, and we are engaged in energy efficient projects and save a certain part of the fuel. Due to this, in the future, when we recoup our costs, you can either lower the tariff or stabilize it. ” That is, it is now extremely important for us that the fuel component in the tariff be preserved, we need long-term tariffs, and with this the state can help us.
- Last year, the First International Conference "Renewable Energy in Isolated Systems of the Far East of Russia" was held. How do you evaluate its results and what do you expect from the second conference?
In 2012, OAO RAO Energy Systems of the East announced the launch of a program for the implementation of renewable energy projects in the Russian Far East. This program is based on the successful operation of a series of pilot renewable energy projects, which proved the main thing: it is here, in isolated settlements, in isolation from the infrastructure, that renewable energy sources can be economically effective today.
2013 year became a reference point for RES in the Far Eastern Federal District. Leaders of a number of subjects of the federation joined the initiative of power engineers, signing agreements on the development of renewable energy. In fact, an infrastructure has been created for the market of renewable energy projects in isolated areas of the Far East and the Far North.
The interview was published in the magazine "Lights in the East" for 6/2014.