MOSCOW — Following recent reports that the Ukraine government intends to boost renewable energy in order to decrease its dependence from Russian gas, the government of the Russian Federation claimed that it plans to develop solar and wind energy in the recently annexed Crimea peninsula. Russian government experts believe that it will decrease the energy dependence of the region from the mainland Ukraine, which today accounts for 90 percent of the total energy consumption of Crimea.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak reported that Crimea’s renewable energy potential is very high. He said that already operating here companies are working with several preferences and benefits that they received from the Ukraine autorities. According to him, Russia should keep all this benefits in place. In general according to the estimations of the Russian Ministry of Energy it is needed to build the capacities for the generation of 1,320 MW of energy in the region. This figure include the energy from all sources — traditional and renewable. The estimated price of the launching of these capacities are about RUB 90-100 billion (US $2.51-2.79 billion). The experts of the Ministry of Energy forecasted that about 25-30 percent will go to the projects of the development of the reneable energy, so some part from these 1,320 MW will be get from alternative sources.
The development of renewable energy in Crimea started in 2009 when the Ukraine government commissioned Activ Solar, based in Austria, to build 297 MW of solar projects. The Russian government has promised that these initiatives will be kept in place and it is currently negotiating with Activ Solar to boost the capacity of the project.
In addition, the Russian government ordered RusHydro, one of the leaders in the Russian renewable energy market, to develop wind energy in Crimea. The company confirmed its interest in the project.
“RusHydro is interested in the development of renewable energy, including wind power, in the Crimea. We will start to consider the new investments in renewable energy of Crimea after synchronization of legislation of the peninsula with the legislation of the Russian Federation and the establishment of mechanisms of the return from such projects,” said Elena Vishnjakova, the head of the Department of Public Relations at RusHydro.
The Russian government is hurrying all involved parties to deal Crimea’s major energy supply issues, especially since Western sanctions may soon cut the ability of the government to implement large investment projects. It is clear that in the Crimea Russian authorities need to construct its own power generating capacity as quickly as possible, according to Konstantin Shastin, head of strategy for the energy sector of the Russian division of Siemens. The fact is that the Ukraine government has the ability to leave the peninsula almost without electricity, which will bring economy of region in havoc.
Crimea is by 80 percent depending on the supplies of electricity from mainland Ukraine. The supplying company DTEK-Krimenergo in the beginning of May announced that it may stop any supplies to the peninsula. And Russia have no electricity lines and other infrastructure, as it ever don’t have any land pass to Crimea, to compensate the losses of energy if Ukraine would make such step.
In late-March Ukraine authorities temporary stop supply of energy to Kerch, Old Crimea, Yalta, Alushta, Simeiz and Mishor as well as partially reenergized Bakhchisarai, Saki, Evpatoria and Simferopol — the largest cities of the peninsula. The supplies of energy have been restored, but the local authorities are currently afraid that someday the supplies of energy may be stopped and Crimea will be left in darkness.
At the same time, experts say that currently Ukraine authorities want the energy, but have to ability to stop supply to Crimea. In this case, neighboring Kherson Oblast will also be left in darkness (the two regions share an electricity system and it will be impossible to shut down one of them and leave the other operating).
Lead image: Crimea map via Shutterstock