Within the frames of Gaidar forum the Head of RUSNANO argued with the Head of Sberbank on prospects of the renewables in our country.

According to one of the leaders, the sector of electric generation was already practically created from renewables and in the next years will develop, and according to the other, we have no such a sector as there are also no prospects for it – we have low cost of energy resources. This small dispute gives us a reason to talk about renewable power.

The main issue: why should Russia develop renewable power? It would seem that the answer is obvious: there are regions in Russia where it is difficult and expensive to deliver traditional types of fuel (gas, coal and fuel oil). Possibly, in some of them it would be reasonable to install the hybrid generating systems (transforming wind power, the sun and heat of the earth to electricity) for solution of this problem. This scheme, by the way, is used by a number of the companies in small generation, for example, Gazprom.

But if to judge according to the Head of RUSNANO, this problem is not of that scale. During the dispute the thesis that renewable energy sources develop so quickly that sooner or later Russia should buy cheap electricity from renewable sources was heard. Most likely, we need to run very fast to catch up with the world power branch leaving far forward. However we believe that the forecast of the Head of RUSNANO is excessively pessimistic and goes in line with universal attempt to attract new money in renewable power which against falling of prices of oil began to have problems with financing. Do you think that it is paradox? Let’s understand.

First of all we will pay attention to Europe — the main buyer of the Russian gas and, probably, future supplier of the cheap electric power from renewed energy sources. The boom of investments into renewable power began in 2011, after accident on the Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima-1. Under shouts about ecological threat nuclear power plants started being closed including in Germany which owing to a number of purely geographical reasons could have no the same problems with a nuclear power plant as at Japan. But at Europe there were producers of the equipment for power plants on renewed energy sources. However the pleasure of the European producers was short. Unexpectedly it became clear that China offers similar production cheaper (not only thanks to the cheap credits and the state support but thanks to that China is one of the chief producers of necessary materials). To the EU there went the series of bankruptcies and the People’s Republic of China increased volumes of deliveries.

Rated capacity of power plants on renewable sources started increasing promptly. Today in the European Union (including Great Britain) this indicator on wind and the sun exceeds 240 GW, besides about 60% of this size is a share of wind farms. But there are two small problems: unpredictability of «renewable» generation and efficiency of rated capacity. The sun does not shine day and night. Surprisingly, but even in the afternoon it is sometimes closed by clouds. The wind blows changeably and with a changeable speed. Respectively, you cannot authentically predict, in what time point and how much electricity will be made. Moreover, you cannot make it when you need it.

What to do in such a situation to the state which wants to keep development of renewed energy sources in every way? It puts renewable electricity in base. That is as soon as solar and wind stations start making electricity, it is obliged to be bought. So «the invisible hand of the market» works at practice: in the form of an order renewables should move as soon as the sun shines behind the clouds and the wind blows. Owing to a number of the technical reasons generally gas generation should move. That, by the way, leads to closing of new power plants. If to wash away all power plants from the market on which the role of regulators of consumption is assigned what will happen to a power supply system of our neighbors in the continent? Let’s leave this question without answer.
Fortunately, huge scales of input of renewable energy sources generation are compensated by low efficiency of rated capacity. In fact, for wind farms it does not exceed 25% and for solar — 12%. It is possible to tell that 100 GW of solar generation «on weight» are equal to 15 GW of the nuclear power plant.

So far development of renewable energy sources in Europe is provided due to rigid state regulation and also at the expense of an overpayment from the consumer. An average consumer is compelled to pay for «green» electricity more expensively. And all this against the background that than distances in the EU are less than in Russia and there are more sunny days. It is interesting that with falling of energy costs it is more difficult to explain to a consumer why he should overpay for renewable energy sources.

Of course, a part of problems could be solved, having created effective systems of storage of electricity. At least then there would be no need in the regulating capacities. But such technologies do not exist. And in reality it is not expected. And to begin reforms in Russia in so fundamental sector as electric generation, hoping for cancelled scientific breaks of the future, frankly speaking, is unreasonably, especially to carry out reforms on present technical base which is far from being perfect.

The above mentioned means that development of renewables as the Head of RUSNANO, as well as the Head of Sberbank understands it, will hardly happens in Russia more effectively than in Europe. And the only one result will be that our country will make one more sales market for producers of the renewable energy sources equipment. Perhaps, European, perhaps, Chinese. When against the background of cheap oil investments into renewable power decreased on 18%, such a market can become a tidbit. Especially if the state decides to make noticeable monetary injections in renewable power and will enter the raised («green») tariffs for the population.

And there are some dry facts at the end. Against the boom of renewable power which began in 2011, consumption of gas in the world grew from 3.25 trillion CBM to 3.47 trillion CBM. And last year Gazprom set a record of supply of gas to Europe. Thus efficiency of the Russian electric generation is still far from a limit — the mass of old power plants work with low efficiency in our country. So, it is very early to speak about limits of competitiveness of traditional power sources and renewable energy sources. However, this talk can pay attention of the state to replacement of old power plants with the new. Then there will be a real advantage from disputes on whether renewable energy sources exist in Russia or not. After all it is well-known that we have renewed energy sources. About 20% of all rated capacity of the Russian power plants is a share of hydro generation which does not need «green» tariffs.