Perspectives and hurdles for wind energy in Northwest Russia and Norway

Publish date: September 26, 2010

KIRKENESS, Norway – A roundtable discussion between Russian and Norwegian and Russian wind power authorities which was the culmination of a Bellona forum on furthering the potential of the renewable energy source in northwest Russia concluded that wind energy is a difficult concept to realize in both countries.

The bilateral meeting, held here in the northern Russian-Norwegian border town of Kirkeness, was entitled “How to Make Wind Energy Projects in Northwest Russia a Reality,” and wrapped a week of cross border visits for some 30 Russian authorities and wind energy experts to wind power facilities in Finnmark County, Norway.

The goal of the meeting in Kirkeness was to discuss the implementation of wind energy in Northwest Russia and to examine the possibilities and hurdles to wind development.

“Bellona’s forum consists of presenting an arena for discussion for all interested parties from Russia and Norway where they can exchange their experience and results,” said Anne Gry Rønningen, coordinator of renewable energy projects for Bellona Oslo. “ Bellona hopes that such meetings will create a platform for future cooperation, which will lead to the realization of concrete renewable energy projects in Northwest Russia.”

In both northern Norway and Northwest Russia, the poential for wind energy is very attractive. However, the problems for both countries in harnessing it coincide. The man hurdle for both countries is that wind energy still remains unprofitable because of incomplete financing mechanisms.

The second problem in both countries is transferring the power produced by wind to where it is most needed. In both countries wind energy is produced in areas that are thousands of kilometres from where it is needed most.

Wind energy in high demand in Norway

“Wind energy in Finnmark has a big future,” said Tore Martinsen of  Varanger Kraft, a municipally owned power company provided hydroelectric energy in Finnmark. “It is in demand on European markets and is easily realized, as is any form of clean energy.”

Solveigh Steinmo of SWECO, which provides engineering consultation to clean energy projects, said Finnmark is just begging to develop a regional plan for the construction of wind energy facilities. The biggest task faced by the Finnmark regional govermentment is to create conditions for wind park development that do not conflict with other entities – mainly the defence sector.

“Such strategic tasks as improvement of the conditions for the development of wind energy – where the main hurdles remain a limited number of financial mechanisms and limited possibilities to transmit the power – are what our regional authorities are facing,” said Steinmo.

According to date from the Norwegian Directorate of Water Resources and Energy, the combined output of all windmills in Norway is 500 megawatts. This is lower than, for example, Denmark and Germany. But Norway is awash in hydroelectric energy accounting for 99.5 percent of the country’s energy consumption. Norway, therefore, has until now not considered the development of its wind energy potential.

Now, thanks to the advent of the green certificate programme, which issues certificates confirming the generation of defined amount of energy from renewable sources, Norwegian energy companies have already announced the construction of two wind parks in Norway with a total energy output of 2,500 Megawatts. In the coming 15 years, Norway plans to invest up to €4 billion in the development of energy transmittal within the country.

Wind energy in Northwest Russia

“Yesterday, we observed a working wind park in Finnmark, and we would really like to realize such a project in the Arkangelsk Region (of Northwest Russia),” said Malkaz Alkhazov, deputy general director for capital construction for OAO Arkholbenergo. Energy is extremely expensive in the Arkangelsk Region because it had to import fossil fuels to a large number of remote areas. Alkhazov was part of a 30-member Russian delegation to visit a wind park in Kjøllefjord in Finnmark as part of the Bellona sponsored wind forum.

Alkazov said his region has wind energy potential and the desire to use it, but currently, investment mechanisms are lacking.

According to Paul Logchies, the general director of the Dutch Wind Life Energy, all the conditions for the successful completion of a planned 200 megawatt wind energy in the Teriberka district of the Murmank Region exist.

“There is an excellent infrastructure there: a good road from Murmansk to the village of Tummany, power line construction, good wind indicators and unpopulated areas,” Logchies said.

But the financial crisis has taken a toll on development schedule.  But the technical and ecological verification process for the project has already been undertaken. It is expected that the wind park will pay for itself within five to six year because a federal mechanism for supporting wind energy will be launched. The financial mechanism is founded on compensation for specified energy production, and not tariffs for connecting to the grid, as in Europe.

“Now all industry is waiting for the launch of the mechanism of the federal ministry of energy for the support of wind energy, which is much needed. Under this mechanism, the price of electricity from renewable sources will be eight Euro cents per kilowatt. This is two times more, than Norway can receive by the green certificate programme,” said Logchies.

“The interest demonstrated by the representatives of Northwest Russian municipalities instils hope that projects for wind energy will receive the support of authorities, at least on local level,” said Yury Sergeyev, Bellona Murmansk’s coordinator of renewable energy projects. “Bellona will continue to facilitate cooperation among authorities, science and business so that wind energy projects are finally become a reality,” he said.

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