Russia has launched several efforts for a low carbon economy. These include, for instance, increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy, forest law, and work for harmonizing its chemical legislation with European Reach. Russia also aims to make the Sochi Winter Olympic Games 2014 a true model for sustainable development for the entire country.
2 March 2010
Russian efforts towards a low-carbon economy
Russia has driven the environment to the forefront of the political agenda and launched
several efforts for a low carbon economy. These include, for instance, increasing energy
efficiency and renewable energy, forest law, and work for harmonizing its chemical legislation
with European Reach. Russia also aims to make the Sochi Winter Olympic Games 2014 a true
model for sustainable development for the entire country.
Now, Russia spends an estimated 3.5 times more energy than the European average. This is mainly
due to the fact that in the 1990s Russians had been more concerned about survival than the
A new national energy strategy until 2030, approved by the Russian government in November 2009,
aims to reduce Russia's energy dependence by boosting a faster growth of sectors consuming less
energy and using the technical potential of energy saving.
The strategy also states that the country?s economy eventually will start to turn towards the use of
alternative energy resources - including renewables and nuclear power. However, that will mainly
happen in the period from 2022 to 2030.
Energy efficiency - the most urgent
Improving energy efficiency is a major
macroeconomic challenge. Energy efficiency must
support all the other priorities for technological
modernization. To maximize its effects, cuts in
consumption of energy resources must be
supplemented by the launch of new, innovative
processes and the implementation of frontline
technological solutions, said President Dimitry
Medvedev in the State Council meeting last July.
President with First Deputy Prime Minister
Igor Shuvalov and Deputy Prime Minister and
Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.
Energy efficiency is a topical and a cumbersome issue, so addressing every aspect of it is very
urgent, as we seem to be falling behind in every respect, he stressed.
?So, we must improve energy conservation in every area, but I would like to particularly single out
the situation in the public utilities sector. All of the governors here today are well-aware that energy
is used in an atrociously inefficient way when it comes to heating and public utilities.?
?Our buildings and our overall housing infrastructure are a kind of ?black hole? that sucks in
enormous amounts of energy resources. Electric power lines are absolutely outdated, and coupled
with outdated illumination devices, they cause immense energy waste,? Medvedev described.
New law for energy efficiency
Russia's lower house of parliament passed the energy efficiency bill last October, aimed at creating
a legal and economic basis for stimulating energy saving technology and reducing excessive
The Federal law on energy efficiency, signed by President Medvedev in November, requires the
marking of goods according to their energy efficiency and obligatory commercial recording of
energy resources and introduces energy efficiency standards for new buildings and installations.
The law also calls for reducing budget expenditures incurred by the purchase of energy resources
and the maintenance of common property in multi-storied residential buildings.
In addition, it requires the most energy intensive organizations to conduct energy studies, approve
energy saving and energy efficiency programs, introduction of energy-dependent contracts, a
transition to long-term tariff regulation, and the creation of a single inter-agency information and
analytical energy efficiency system.
On the basis of the law, the Ministry of Energy is to engage federal agencies and utilities and seek
their input and cooperation in order to fulfill the tasks outlined in the directive.
Renewable energy for domestic use
The overwhelming size of Russia implies a strong development potential for all renewable energy
resources, but development of renewable energy projects is hindered by the lack of a legislative
mandate, low electric and heat tariffs, low public demand, and the overall lack of investment
Russian potential for other renewables:
*Biomass potential for electricity - including sewage sludge, cattle manure, and lumber waste - is
nearly 15, 000 MW.
*Wind: Utilizing just 25 percent of total potential 175,000 MW.
*Hydropower: 9 percent of the world?s hydro resources concentrated on Russian soil. A large
potential for small to medium hydro power projects.
*Geothermal: Theoretical resource estimation 3,000 MW.
*Solar: Reasonable in the southern regions.
According to Russian leaders, in order to maximize output of natural gas and oil for export
renewable energy should be exploited to the fullest extent for domestic use. It also helps Russia to
tackle climate change.
The executive directive launched by Prime Minister Putin in January 2009 set several specific
targets for expanding the share of renewable energy in electricity generation from less than the
current 1 percent to 1.5 percent in 2010, 2.5 percent in 2015, and 4.5 percent by 2020.
Opportunities for domestic and foreign investors
About half of the Russian inhabitants live in areas without a direct
connection to the gas or oil transmission pipelines, but the regions have
huge resources of wood, peat and other biomass-based material.
With the reconstruction of pulp and paper plants, the use of wood
waste is also becoming more prevalent.
For example, utilization of this potential would help to respond to
energy, environmental and economic challenges, especially in rural
districts of the Russian Federation.
There could be greater use of renewables in future years if foreign and domestic investors in
Russian utilities see cost-effective opportunities for generating additional income from renewables
and remain committed to expanding the use of clean energy sources.
Foreign suppliers of equipment and engineering services may come to see this as an area where
partnerships and even joint ventures would be welcome.
Paving the way for hydrogen society
Currently, there are several programs going on in Russia for
clean energy production including hydrogen generation and
storage, fuel cells and hydrogen engines, in which major
companies like Gazprom, a Russian gas giant, are already
For example, the Russian Kurczhatov Institute has developed an
T innovative natural gas reforming technology for hydrogen he 1,200-kilometer undersea
N production. ord
Stream pipeline would carry gas
The natural gas pipeline network can be modified to deliver pure
hydrogen or hydrogen/natural gas mixture to local customers in
the northwestern Russian port of
V different parts of the country.yborg to the northern German
port of Greifswald.
This production concept ? although much research and testing work on it is still needed - may also
well contribute to a future development of the European hydrogen society, when the Nord Stream
gas pipeline will link Russia and the European Union via the Baltic Sea.
Forest law - good for the environment
Forest area within the Russian Federation ? comparable with the
territory of Europe - holds almost half of the world?s softwood
resources. The Russian Northwest has more than half of Russian
European wood. Only 40 percent of the cutting potential is used.
The new forest legislation provide the Russian forest industry an
opportunity to prepare for competitive and sustainable future through
investments - from biodiversity to entire product life cycle.
Vast forest resources and long distance to markets support development of resource-based forest
industry i.e. pulp, linerboard, panelboard, sawnwood in Russia as the main strategic choice.
In addition to these products, biomass-based resources form a sustainable basis for the production
of transport fuels, chemicals and other value added products.
But development of the industry requires investments in infrastructure, forest management,
operations to support wood supply logistics and in expansion and modernization of production
Harmonizing chemical legislation with EU Reach
The EU is largest export market for Russian chemical industry. Now the country is working to pass
its own Reach act and aim to harmonize it with European Reach (Regulation on Registration,
Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), as well as the system of classification and
labeling of chemical substances.
The Russian Chemists Union, together with the Russian Industry and Enterprise Union, has started
all of round preparation of the chemical industry community for acceptance of Reach.
The Union is also taking part in working out the Federal law ?About the safety of chemical
substances," which was judged by European experts to be harmonized with Reach.
Sochi - an environmental benchmark for entire Russia
The ambitious games plan of the
Russian City of Sochi includes strong
efforts to save the environment in terms
of sustainable development.
As a result, the city sets a new standard
in environmental awareness and
responsibility and provides true model
for sustainable development for the
entire Russia. In addition, Sochi also
may act as a future concept for "Green
To take care of the environment, the city of Sochi aims to be carbon neutral and
zero-waste city with an implement of a comprehensive environmental
monitoring system during the development of venues for the Winter Games.
These sound and are tough challenges, but Russia has top expertise e.g. for
hydrogen technology. In addition, the country stems power from international
The satellite monitoring system take pictures of the Olympic development sites
and surrounding areas. Thus, the system enables to minimize the environmental
impact of development and construction for the Games.
In January 2010, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
representative Theodore Oben expressed his satisfaction with the steps taken by
the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee to fulfill its environmental commitments
in venues construction.
"I am happy with the visit as it left me with the feeling that the entire team,
including those doing the construction, are conscious of the importance of fully
integrating environmental considerations in their work. I also note with optimism
the expressions of willingness to listen to and engage all stakeholders in efforts
to make the Sochi Games green," Oben stated.