New hopes for Russian RES developers emerge at REF-2013 meeting in Moscow

RES development policies in Russia and other member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Eastern European hot spots, the role of power supply contracts, and the significance of local content were among some of the main topics at the 2nd International Sustainable Energy Forum in Russia (REF-2013), which ends on Wednesday.

Taking the stage at the event were more than 60 professional speakers representing sustainable energy businesses from not only Russia and the CIS but around the world as well as officials from the Russian government, international financial institutions and global green energy organizations.

In plenary sessions, workshops and thematic focus sections, they shared their insights on an array of issues ranging from how the legislative platform for RES development in Russia and other CIS countries works today to what renewable energy markets in Eastern Europe are now in the focus of interests among key market-players.

Other topics in the agenda included:

  • the functioning of mechanism of power supply contracts and how they may contribute to the formation of a renewable energy market in Russia;
  • whether Russian companies can provide conditions of local content in the implementation of renewable energy projects;
  • how to build an effective business on the basis of renewable energy facilities;
  • the prospect of creating a Russian industry of specialized equipment for renewable energy facilities;
  • and risks in the implementation of projects in the energy sector in Russia and other CIS countries.

Though the participants praised the event as a stride forward in bringing together sustainable energy developers and policy makers, some have expressed concerns that the gap between the legislation and factual implementation of green projects is just too big in Russia and other CIS states.

Similar sentiments were echoed at the Nov. 12 conference focusing on "The Implementation of Support Mechanisms for Generating Facilities that Operate on Renewable Sources of Energy in the Wholesale and Retail Electricity and Capacity Markets," which also took place in Moscow.

"The subject of insufficient attention of the Russian and CIS member states’ governments to the needs of renewables developers has been trending throughout the event," Dimitry Miroshin, a participant of the forum representing Germany’s Accelios Solar, told pv magazine.

Specifically, participants have criticized Russia’s Renewable Energy Law, calling it "deficiency-ridden," Miroshin added.

"Under the law, green energy developers who are willing to participate in tenders for state support for implementation of their renewable energy projects are required to submit guarantees of state power companies that green generation will be interconnected into the grid. But for that there are many barriers set, especially in terms of the green capacity, to have a renewable energy facility interconnected with a state electric generator," Miroshin pointed out.

"Russian and CIS sustainable energy developers want this requirement to be dropped as a bank’s guarantee should suffice to enroll tender," he added.

The first-ever such tender, held in October, has as a result drawn much criticism, which reverberated among participants at the conferences.

According to Miroshin, the government officials participating in the Forum have acknowledged the criticism and pledged to make certain corrections to the RES law to avoid a repeat of the flaws in a new tender to be held next spring.