Russian Efforts Towards a Low-Carbon Economy

An Expert's View about Major Industries in Russia

Posted on: 29 Mar 2010

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. © Dimenty 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 environment. 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 electricity use. 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 capital. 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 participating. 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 from 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 capacity. 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 Games". 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 cooperation. 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.
Posted: 29 March 2010

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