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From barriers to opportunities
How the Far East became the leader in the development of renewable energy in Russia
The largest Russian solar power plant is installed in the Crimea, and this is not surprising. However, according to the pace of construction of new solar stations, Yakutia beats all records: over the past three years, 13 power facilities have already been put into operation in the republic, and in the near future - more than a dozen. As the coldest Russian region became the center for the development of modern technologies - discussed at the Fourth International Conference on the Development of Renewable Energy, held in Yakutsk 9-11 June. The event organized by the company "RAO ES of the East" gathered more than 380 participants from 14 countries. Manufacturers of equipment, integrators, officials and experts in the field of RES within two days presented more than 40 reports on the problems and prospects of alternative energy in the region.
Life in the Far North and permafrost conditions, and almost all of Yakutia's territory belongs to it, it is not easy: the annual amplitude of temperatures exceeds 110 degrees, approaching the record levels in minus 71˚ C in winter, the heat up to + 40 ˚ C. In the summer, heat up to + XNUMX ˚ С. The points located in different regions of Yakutia are separated by huge distances and the actual absence of paved roads.
Hence the main problem of the Yakut power industry - isolated power systems. Numerous settlements, scattered on a territory the size of India, are provided with own generating capacities and require annual delivery of fuel. In the conditions of permafrost and in the actual absence of paved roads, measures for the delivery of diesel to remote areas involve high costs. Sometimes the cargo goes to the destination point two years, which requires additional costs for transshipment and storage. As a result, the transport component in the cost of electricity becomes the main, and the cost of a kilowatt "goes off scale" and in some localities exceeds 680 rubles, and this is not the limit.
Now, due to cross-subsidization, tariffs are kept at approximately the same level. In 2015 alone, according to Igor Nikiforov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the cost of cross-subsidization in the region amounted to a record 6,8 billion rubles. However, after the integration of the power system of Yakutia with the united power system of the East, planned for 2017, the cost of electricity in isolated villages will increase many times, and the system will need to be changed.
The search for possible options for the development of the regional energy system lasted long enough, a variety of options were worked out. As Igor Nikiforov notes, "the most profitable replacement of diesel generation is the conversion to gas, but all the necessary infrastructure in the local energy zone is missing." Another effective measure - the construction of high-voltage power lines - is not economically justified due to the huge distances and permafrost conditions. Only 3,5% power transmission towers in the republic are made of metal, the rest are wooden.
The innovative solution, as the specialists of the company Yakutskenergo joke, was indicated by the sun itself. By the level of insolation (the number of sunny days per year), Yakutia can compete with the Krasnodar region: on clear weather, 260 days a year. The introduction of solar generation began three years ago following a series of experiments conducted by specialists from Yakutskenergo.
Installation of solar panels and wind generators does not allow to abandon diesel stations, but it provides significant fuel economy and extends the life of energy facilities. The construction of such stations requires minimal capital investment, but tangible savings already in the first months of work. The company spends the saved funds for the modernization and construction of new facilities. In the future, this will significantly reduce the cost of electricity for consumers.
Life in isolation
All isolated villages are somewhat similar to each other. People here are used to living apart and not relying on others: to provide themselves with essential food, to use local building materials. The only source of electricity for such villages, as a rule, is a small diesel station, the fuel for which is delivered for the season ahead. And there are thousands of such settlements in Yakutia. They are scattered throughout the republic up to the Far North. To get to most of them is possible only by boat or boat, but for many the only possible way is to use aviation.
The nearest isolated Yakutsk settlement is Batamai village of Kobyay ulus, in isolation from civilization there live almost 300 people. On the way here can not be reached: the message is only possible on the water - on a boat or a meteor - or on the ice, when the river gets up. As a result, a small by Russian standards distance - about two hundred kilometers - takes at least 4 hours of travel.
Until recently, a small diesel power plant was the only source of electricity in the village. Everything changed in 2011, when an experimental solar panel appeared in the village. Its power was only 10 kW, but Batamai overnight became the most advanced Yakut settlement. The first year of using the solar panel showed that the experiment could be continued: the equipment coped with the severe northern climate and even allowed to save a little fuel. Soon the power of the station was brought to 60 kW, which allows in summer to replace diesel generation by 70%.
Great prospects for a small village
It is no exaggeration to say that heat in the North is the source of life. A working boiler room provides heating to social facilities, brings electricity to the houses, allows us to develop production facilities, gives hope for a warm future. In Yakutia, local energy is also one of the important areas of employment for the population, providing additional jobs in rural areas.
The development of renewable energy is a good way to modernize obsolete diesel stations and give impetus to the development of the region. The positive effect of the new stations has already been felt by residents of several northern settlements. In Batamai village, for example, in 2015 a new kindergarten school for 40 pupils and 20 preschool children opened. Director of the educational institution Stanislav Nikitin is sure, now the village will heal in a new way. "The opening of a new kindergarten school is a very important event for us," said Stanislav, the father of eight children, "a modern school with a large sports hall, dining room and equipped territory is the key to development." People will not leave their homes, they will have more children. - Look at yourself, from 300 residents we have 60 - children of school and preschool age. They must stay here. " In the coming years, the account of solar and wind power stations in Yakutia will go to tens, and thousands of residents of remote areas will gain confidence in the future.
Alternative energy in Yakutia has a great future, says Patrick Willems, head of the IFC Program for the Development of Renewable Energy Sources in Russia. "There are good examples of renewable energy development in isolated areas in the world, for example, in Alaska, in the city of Kodiak, where up to 99% of energy is received from alternative sources." It is just necessary to learn how to consider obstacles as opportunities, "the expert said addressing the conference in Yakutsk. And it seems that the Far Eastern power engineers do it well.