Bring me sunshine – solar energy pioneering clean energy transition in Russia

Boute and Zhikharev analysed clean energy transition in Russia. They argue that the recent development of the solar energy industry in the country dependent on traditional energy sources is caused by the vested interests of the producers.

They looked at the competition between renewable energy sources under the Russian subsidyscheme and found that the manufacturing of clean energy equipment, rather than the decarbonization of the energy system, drives Russia’s renewable energy policy. The state’s support for the new energy aims in the first place to develop innovative technologies in the energy sector, especially solar energy.

Solar energy production received a great economic support from the state and investments from the large industries, being clearly preferred over the wind and small hydropower generation which are harder to implement due to the country’s weather conditions. In Russia, even the fossil fuel industries invest in the solar energy, which again shows the economic interest rather than ecological concern.

Fig.1. The distribution of solar energy acroos the territory of Russia
(green – <1700 sun hours/year (h/y); blue – 1700-2000 h/y; red – >2000 h/y )

However, these vested interests helped to make a shift towards renewable energy in a country heavily dependent on oil and gas. After many unsuccessful initiatives, the development of a local solar energy industry in Russia, backed by major Russian industrial groups, eventually resulted in the adoption of a support scheme for renewable energy. 

Local solar energy industry stimulated the deployment of renewable energy technologies in general, as wind and hydropower industries also started to receive support from the state as well as from the foreign investors.

The Russian renewable energy sector is now much broader than just solar energy under the control of major domestic industrial groups.

Original source: Boute, A., & Zhikharev, A. (2019). Vested interests as driver of the clean energy transition: Evidence from Russia’s solar energy policy. Energy Policy, 133, 110910.

Source link: Boute, A., & Zhikharev, A. (2019). Vested interests as driver of the clean energy transition: Evidence from Russia’s solar energy policy. Energy Policy133, 1109.

Featured image: Carlos Barria – REUTERS

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