Russia ramps up solar capacity in Far East amidst increasing Chinese competition


Russia ramps up solar power capacities in Far East, Chinese might be behind soon

Russia’s state-controlled Rosseti, the country’s largest power grid company, and Xevel, a Russian energy holding with a keen eye on RES development, have signed agreement under which they will install a set of autonomous hybrid power systems, mostly solar facilities, in the country’s far-flung regions known for the adverse climatic conditions.

Most of the PV installations will pop up in the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia.

The use of autonomous hybrid power systems is becoming increasingly popular in the region due to its limited access to the conventional energy network and the gap between demand and supply of conventional energy sources.

The localities where the solar facilities will be erected are situated approximately 85-60 kilometers away from a nearest power transmission network.

Importantly, the solar-diesel hybrid installations will reduce the cost of local electricity output by 40%. They will also help decrease the regional government’s energy subsidies.

Meanwhile, the largest energy holding, Energiceskije sistemy Vostoka, in the Russian Far East has announced plans to build a 4 MW solar plant in the Yakut settlement of Batagaoj Verxojansk. It will be the largest facility of its kind and is expected to save some 300 ton of expensive fuel annually.

The holding, operating in the Russian regions of Primorje, Khabarovsk Kraij, Amur and Sakha, is expected to launch the $3.5 million PV installation in the third quarter of 2015. Its installed capacity will initially be 1 MW but could be increased up to 4 MW in a few of years.

When interconnected with the grid, along with a local diesel-fired combined head and power (CHP) system, it will wrap up the creation of a single energy complex in the district, able to fully satisfy the demand for power and heat. The solar panels are to be made of extreme heat and cold-resistant materials.

As solar insolation in Sakha is on par with that in the sunshine regions of Crimea and Krasnodar, the potential for solar expansion in the far-flung republic remains big.

As of now, Energiceskije sistemy Vostoka is operating six solar facilities in the region. Those in the settlements of Dulgalax, Jugchugeij and Kudu-Kjuel have a capacity of 20 kW each and those in the settlement of Batamij are 30 kW each.

But the Russian companies may see increased competition in the future from the China-based Amur Sirius, which was awarded a whopping 175 MW of solar capacity this year in the country's second renewable power capacity distribution auction.

The Chinese are set to implement a dozen solar projects in Russia but are expected to eventually venture into the yet-unchartered solar power territories of the Far Eastern regions.

To cut the Russia operation costs, Amur Sirius is looking to build a PV module factory in the republic of Tatarstan next year and may also soon open a branch of a Chinese bank to facilitate the operations.

The Chinese company is expected to channel nearly $1 billion into the Russian solar market during 2015-2018.

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