460 MW of solar PV pre-approved in Russian solicitation

460 MW of solar PV projects have been pre-approved in the 2015 renewable energy solicitation run by the Russian Electricity Market Council. Projects are expected to be awarded in the next few weeks.

This is the third year of annual auctions, with 505 MW of PV awarded in 2014, and 399 MW in 2013. In the Russian system developers bid on the capital expenditure (capex) of their projects, and additionally receive spot market prices for electricity delivered.

These auctions also awarded a few dozen MW of wind and small hydro. But despite high capex payments for solar, very little PV has been built in Russia to date. Part of this may be due to a requirement that these projects use 50-70% local content.

“There are not that many companies actually manufacturing solar modules in Russia,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Head of Solar Analysis Jenny Chase told pv magazine.

Chase counts only two PV module makers with the capacity to produce 100 MW or more of PV modules: Crystalline silicon PV maker Solar Energy Holdings and amorphous silicon PV maker Hevel. Hevel has announced ambitious plans for expansion, and Chase notes that there is some potential for contract manufacturing

BNEF’s Chase described the prices for Russian PV modules as “pretty high”, and also notes the role of macroeconomic factors. “The cratering of the Ruble made everything a bit harder,” she concludes.

Despite the generally slow pace of the Russian solar market, state news agency TASS reports that a 25 MW solar PV plant in Orenburg Oblast will formally open on December 21, and further reported the start of construction on two projects in Bashkortostan totaling 15 MW in June.