CEO of Solar PV Consulting, Tomasz Slusarz, believes that while it has been slow on the uptake, conditions in the country are ripe for solar development.
"Observing the policy and market situation on the global markets for the past eight years and comparing it to the current situation in Russia, I am quite confident that cumulative solar installed capacity in Russia can reach above one or even two GW by 2020 ," he stated.
In backing up his claim, Slusarz presents a number of arguments. First off, he stated, there is a growing energy demand in Russia. "I also notice a growing understanding from Russian policy makers and the private sector that increased use of renewable energy technologies can help meet the growing demand," he said.
He goes on to say that the Energy Strategy of Russia has laid out a 4.5 percent renewable energy target by 2020, which means that 22 GW of newly installed renewable capacity must be added to the grid by then.
"As there are no sectorial targets within the 4.5 percent target, theoretically renewable energy capacity can be built from small hydro, wind, biomass or geothermic sources. However, in my opinion, solar PV with its more and more competitive prices can become a quite an important piece of the 22 GW cake."
Furthermore, Slusarz referred to the fact that Russian renewable investments have increased in recent years. For instance, he cited the billions of dollars invested by the Russian solar industry and Rusano, a state-owned fund, into new manufacturing facilities, including Hevel Solar, a thin film facility, and Nitol, which deals with polysilicon and monosilane manufacturing.
"A few weeks ago we heard that Russia’s North Caucasus region is about to set up its own Silicon Valley with a joint venture between the regional government and private businesses. The cost of the project would be around one billion USD with pre-estimated production volume of 12 billion USD per year, and two to seven years of return on investments," he continued.
If it goes ahead, polycrystalline silicon production is expected to be located in Russia’s Stavropol region and monocrystalline silicon production would be set up in Kabardino-Balkaria. Meanwhile, Slusarz said the final production of photovoltaic cells and modules would be located in Karachay-Cherkessia and Dagestan respectively.
There also seems to be a growing interest by such Russian companies as Lukoil and Renova, in solar. "These examples show that a growing number of Russian giant companies, with available financial resources, feel that investing in solar energy can be a good business strategy," he said.
Slusarz concluded by stating, "The question of the day is: How to build a sustainable market and industry in Russia?"
This subject will be the focus of the upcoming Solar Russia 2011 event, which is scheduled to be held on October 27 in Moscow.