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"RES is a necessity dictated by time"

How will renewable energy develop in the coming years? EastRussia

In 2014, the holding "RAO Energy Systems of the East" presented to the public a large-scale program on the development of renewable energy sources in the Far Eastern Federal District. According to the program, by 2020 the company plans to build over 170 objects with a total capacity of about 120 MW. Gradually, one after another in different areas of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), there are solar stations, on Sakhalin and Kamchatka, snow-white windmills soar upward. We talked with Alexei Kaplun, Deputy General Director for Strategy and Investments, RAO Energy Systems of the East, co-chairman of the organizing committee of the conference, on how the implementation of plans for the introduction of renewable energy in the region is proceeding.

"RES is a necessity dictated by time"

- Alexey Alexandrovich, last year at the second International Conference “Renewable Energy in Isolated Systems of the Far East of Russia” you spoke about the holding’s integrated program for the development of renewable energy sources. The plans of the company are very ambitious, this was noted by all guests of the event.

- Ambitious? Maybe. But I would rather call them economically and climatically sound. We do not develop renewable energy for the sake of renewable energy. And they announced that we want to build 120 MW by 2020, not to impress anyone. In our desire to implement renewable energy projects in the Far East, we proceed primarily from economic expediency. In addition to the zones of centralized power supply, RAO ES of the East operates in hundreds of isolated settlements, which are very difficult to reach. Power supply here is provided by diesel power plants - the cost of such energy can reach 100 rubles per 1 kW * h. Moreover, fuel in the structure of this cost is up to 70%, because delivering it to its destination means spending a huge amount of time (delivery of fuel to some regions can take up to 2 years. - Editor's note) and money on logistics. In such conditions, any measures that allow us to reduce fuel consumption mean the release of funds for us. If we put in a suitable place, in addition to a diesel plant, a renewable energy facility that replaces part of the diesel generation at minimal costs, then there is a real possibility of tariff stabilization. In addition, the operation of "green" energy facilities has a positive effect on the ecology of the unique Far Eastern natural corners. At a certain point, we analyzed the cost of diesel fuel, figured out the current geography for the implementation of renewable energy projects, calculated the required capacities, payback periods and the expected effect and formulated our comprehensive program with the parameters that were announced externally. All figures are backed up by common sense. That is, we are not solving the problem “we need to supply 120 green megawatts to the Far Eastern Federal District by all means”. We are solving the problem of saving fuel, and 120 MW, provided with renewable energy sources, can help us in this.

- Did you have to adjust something in the program for the last year in connection with the current economic realities? Perhaps there are some adjustments due to technical nuances?

- We did not make any changes to the program. Despite the fact that at the height of the discussion of the contract on Batagayu, problems with the rapid growth of currencies began. Due to the nuances with the course, which we all watched in the autumn, the fate of this project was in question, and the question was almost Shakespearian: "To be or not to be?", Because the fluctuations in the exchange rate influenced the value of the contract concluded in euros. We managed to agree with the contractor about the suitability of all the courses, and it became obvious that the project was to be.

- At the design stage of the solar station in the village of Batagai, you predicted difficulties with the delivery of the necessary equipment. How did it all turn out in reality and what other difficulties arose in the process of project implementation?

- Only the financial "footpegs" did not stop there. The contract was signed in November. In order to deliver the necessary equipment to the site by the winter road, there was very little time left: in March the winter roads are closed, and therefore we did not have the right to make a mistake - everything had to arrive in Batagai within the specified time and in the volumes and quality that Provided by the project. Otherwise, we would have to wait a whole year - until the next winter road to fix the mistakes. We had time, plus weather helped us a little: the winter road lasted a little longer than usual. In general, the project to build SES in Batagai can be called a bit special, and it's not just that it's the largest solar station beyond the Arctic Circle.

- And what is its special feature?

- First, in the type of contract. We first followed the path of the EPC contract, which implies that the contractor will perform all the work on a turnkey basis. That is, simply, we had to say: “We need a ready-made solar station with a capacity of 1 MW in Batagai”, come to the site on a certain day and receive a power facility ready for launch. However, the situation required our periodic participation in the project implementation not only in the role of the customer, but also in logistic support, interaction with the authorities and other issues. We understood that everyone is working on a common task. Therefore, they did not withdraw, but worked in partnership - jointly resolved some administrative issues - both on land and on the delivery of materials. In this project, as in any other before, the synchronization of all interaction chains was of great importance.

Secondly, we brought more equipment to Batagay than the project really requires, with the intention of creating a reserve for other projects in the territory of Verkhoyansk region. Thus, we will exclude an additional transport component, which is a very significant item of expenditure in the implementation of any energy projects in the territory of the Far East. This approach will reduce the cost and payback period of projects.

- In the spring, during the installation works, you flew to Batagai with the inspection. How much was there a degree of waiting for a new solar station from the local residents?

- I felt like it! Especially for the opening of SES, the villagers moved their Ysyakh to simultaneously celebrate two co-ordinated holidays related to the sun. In the local school there was a contest of children's drawings dedicated to the launch of the station. In addition, in addition to the station itself, a small copy appeared in the village, set in the cultural zone. The site around the future memorial sign was not arranged for a long time: as the old residents told us, for several years they could not bring electricity there, and in the spring they spent a few days, a real recreational zone appeared - with benches, a small fountain. I think that this site will be very popular with local residents. So the interest in the station and the premonition of the holiday were felt very well at the preparatory stage. And I would also mention the team work of the contractor, specialists from Sakhaenergo and our colleagues who could have watched in Batagay at the same time, at the construction stage. The government of the republic rendered enormous support. All worked for one thing - well-coordinated and clear.

- Will the experience of building such powerful solar stations be broadcast in other regions of the Far East?

- I think yes. And this experience is almost unique, because here we first encountered certain nuances in logistics and faced the need to work out the technology for installing SES foundations under polar conditions. About the delivery I already mentioned - we had in a very short time so to dock transport schedules of all the equipment elements so that the final delivery of materials for the winter road passed in time. Such a tight binding to a specific date is a serious specificity of the implementation of projects in hard-to-reach areas of the Far Eastern Federal District. As for technological solutions, the Batagay SES, unlike all its predecessors, we decided to put on a pile foundation, and this required clarification of several questions at once: which piles to use, at what depth to install them, how to ensure the reliability of the structure and to exclude the gradual sticking out of the piles after Periodic underwater and frost. Within a year or two, we will look at how these foundations will behave in order to project the solutions developed into other projects in the future. Quite accurately, the subsequent projects will broadcast a comprehensive approach to the delivery of equipment - when the administrative center delivers items immediately for several projects in nearby settlements. Well, of course, such projects as Batagai allow us to feel that we are all - RAO ES of the East, Sakhaenergo, Yakutskenergo, the region - in the same boat and, in order to swim forward, we must all lean on the oars together .

- Which regions other than Yakutia are in active dialogue with RAO Energy Systems of the East?

- Kamchatka and Sakhalin are active. There we over the past year have implemented projects for the construction of windmills, there are plans for their further development. In Primorye, the governor announced his support for the renewable energy projects, we have signed an agreement with them, but we have not taken any active measures, since our coastal partners are currently engaged in other priority tasks. In Khabarovsk Krai, we are discussing a project in the village of Chumikan with the beginning of the implementation in 2016. At the heart of this project is a comprehensive approach to the energy supply of the village, which involves not only the construction of the windmill, but also the concession of a municipal DPP. We continue to discuss the development of renewable energy with Chukotka, with the city of Vladivostok have developed a rationale for investing in the construction of a wind turbine on the island of Popov. In general, we continue to move towards the results outlined in the program - with someone we go faster, with someone slower. On the spot, we do not stand. We expand the geography of our presence - we agreed with the DPRK on the construction of two wind parks on the territory of the Rasson border trade and economic zone, on our side we are considering several sites. This summer we plan to install wind-measuring complexes in Primorye as well.

- Last year, the regulatory regulation of the RES area resulted in one of the brightest discussions at the Second International Conference on Renewable Energy. For the last 12 months, some changes have been made to the relevant legislation. How did they affect the plans of RAO ES of the East for the development of renewable energy in the region?

- Of the innovations in the field of regulation - Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 47 of January 23, 2015. It provides for a number of changes to some acts on the promotion of the use of renewable energy sources in the retail electricity markets. These changes are not prohibitive for us. We will work in a new reality, but in general, they did not affect our plans. As before, we need long-term tariffs and long contracts so that we understand how we will recoup our investments.

- And what about the activity of producers who are ready to cooperate and adapt their proposals to the specific conditions of the Far East?

- We are developing partnerships with Japanese companies Mitsui & Co and Komai Haltec Inc., which are implementing a project in Ust-Kamchatsk. They designed a wind turbine especially for us, which passed tests comparable to real operating conditions: the operation of the wind turbine was tested in a two-story refrigerator, where it was cooled down to –40 ° C. As a result, we received equipment adapted to the specifics of Kamchatka. One wind power plant is already in operation, and two more are to keep it company by the end of 2015. Now we are starting to look at Tiksi with our Japanese colleagues: there are other climatic nuances that will affect the constructive changes of wind turbines. For all our projects - be it solar or wind generation - we are looking for the most optimal technologies. There are technical proposals from China, Korea and other countries. We are always open for cooperation.

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