11/12/2017 |

Non-renewable market volume

Vladimir Dzaguto

Vladimir Dzaguto on whether it is possible to paint all the energy in the world in green.

The boom of renewable energy sources (RES), which has been going on in Russia for the last four years after the introduction of external support for the sector at the expense of energy market consumers, was often explained by supporters through arguments of industrial policy. The point was that the creation of solar and wind generation under the condition of localization of production of components in the Russian Federation would create a new industry, including for export. But before deliveries abroad, the industry needs something like a training camp: first, large volumes of green power generation in your country are required, then the scale effect will reduce the cost of production, and with this you can already conquer the world.

Perhaps in this plane lies one of the answers to the question, why a couple of years ago, investors turned their attention to wind power in Russia. Prior to this, even with high green energy tariffs, allowing to return investments, the windmills were not in demand.

The large European wind power market appears to be showing signs of slowing. In the EU, only about half of the countries are currently building new windmills, and local green tariffs are falling much faster than the cost of the projects themselves (in Germany, the price of wind MWh decreased from € 57 to almost € 38 in spring). It is not surprising that now in Europe they are actively discussing how to raise the share of RES by 2030 – from the current plan of 27% only to 30% or immediately to 35%. Industries need extensive growth, otherwise it is not used. And the output of technology on the Russian market is no worse. As a result, in 2016 the Finnish Fortum, Italian Enel, Russian Rosnano and Rosatom came to the sector, and the list is not closed. And it was easy to find a Western partner, ready to give technology for the construction of a component factory in Russia.

Such logic as a whole does not raise questions, but inevitably puts the industry in dependence on extensive development. If at some point a new market inside the country or outside is not there, the investor has a serious problem. There are enough illustrations. For example, for the new automotive industry in Russia, in the 2000s and early 2010s, which built plants against a background of market growth of 10% per year and more, as the only cure for the collapse in demand in 2014-2016, exports were offered (so far the successes are modest) . Or else: the active foreign campaign of the railway companies of the PRC, which was celebrated several years ago, was explained in the market by the fact that Beijing quickly modernized the rail network, created a huge industry for this, which then discovered that its order portfolios emptied very quickly.

Against this background, the question arises: what will Russian and foreign investors do when the place for RES and Russia ends? And is there a niche abroad for exporting Russian technologies?


Article in Russian: Kommersant

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