Russia steps up solar expansion in the south

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The regions of Bashkiria and Krasnodar in southern Russia are set to ramp up their solar capacities this year, fulfilling some foreign sustainable energy experts’ forecasts on "unprecedented PV capacity growth" in Russia this year.

The Republic of Bashkiria (also known as Bashkortostan) has set its sights on launching two solar plants with a combined capacity of 15 MW by the end of the year and expects to add another 24 MW from three new PV facilities in 2016, reaching a total of 39 MW of PV expansion by the end of 2016.

In its pursuit, the Bashkiria government has signed an agreement with Avelar Solar Technology, a spinoff of state energy company Renova, and Xevel, a company founded in 2009 to develop solar energy in Russia. If all goes well, the first two plants should pop up in the republic’s Xaibulinsk and Kujurgazinsk districts this year while the three solar units slated for 2016 are to be built in the Isiangulovsk, Bugulcansk and Buribaevsk districts.

An additional 50 to 90 MW could come from a further five PV installations during 2015-2020, thereby reaching a total capacity of more than 100 MW.

Although the region boasts yearly irradiation of 1.3 kilowatt hour per square kilometer, which is on par with solar radiation in southern European regions, some local experts had until now deemed solar harnessing to be "insufficient."

Meanwhile, Krasnodar, the other sun-rich region, where the share of sustainable energy generation today stands at a mere 2% of the total output, is likewise resolved to boost its RES capacities, funneling $870 million in green investment during 2014-2020, which would put it among the five top Russian regions with the most rapid sustainable energy expansion.

Of the projected investment, the bulk – some $785 million — will go to wind power with around $30 million in investment expected to go towards solar.