RusHydro, with help from Japan, tries to harness Russiaís wind energy

18 Jun '09
Oleg Kouzbit, Online News Managing Editor

In May Marchmont reported Russian energy authoritiesí large-scale plans for broader use of alternative energy sources, primarily wind. Russiaís largest generating company, RusHydro, chose the Far East to pilot its new wind-focused effort with an estimated $96.8m price tag. The company believes thereís a future for wind energy technology in this country and is eyeing prospective wind energy production in Primorsky Region. In the not too distant future, wind could be powering not just the Far East, but even Central Russia.

Analysts think Russiaís most powerful generating firm will cope with the new challenge. RusHydro now is the worldís largest publicly traded generating company and second largest in installed capacity, which is over 25GW. An umbrella for 52 generating facilities across the country, RusHydro has a 15% share in Russiaís entire energy market.

Right now, all focus is on Russiaís Far East. On April 21, 2009 Primorsky Governor Sergei Darkin and RusHydroís Vasily Zubakin inked a memo of intent over the upcoming Far East VES wind power project. On May 12 RusHydro and Japanís Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power) and Mitsui signed an MoU to implement the project on two islands in the city of Vladivostok.

As PrimaMedia reports, the Russian Academy of Sciences was highly supportive of the Far East VES project from the very beginning, emphasizing that wind-driven power plants would be environmentally-friendly.

The new 36MW wind power station is reportedly on a list of key projects to be carried out in Vladivostok as the city is preparing for the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held in 2012.

The windy islands

With its mere 15MW share of installed wind power capacity, Russia is a dwarf compared to global energy leaders. Russian wind stations account for a scanty 0.007% of all energy-generating facilities. At 36MW, this makes the Vladivostok project look pretty ambitious, 3RPress.ru believes.

According to project planners, there are currently two options under consideration for the implementation of the project. The first one provides for construction of 18 wind-driven power plants, 2MW each; the second calls for 24 plants, 1.5MW each. One option or the other, all plants will be integrated.

The two locations are two islands, Russky and Popova, both just outside Vladivostok. Popova is the first target and then Russky.

The future stations will be reportedly generating up to 90 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is 0.7% of Primorsky Regionís and 3% of Vladivostokís entire capacity.

The cost of the project is an estimated $96.8m.

Testing comes first

Under agreement signed in May RusHydro and Japanís J-Power have teamed up for the early stages of the wind-energy project. As portal 3RPress.ru reports, works on the island of Popova began this week. In cooperation with the other Japanese partner, Mitsui, RusHydro intends to analyze the areaís wind potential. To do that a 60-meter anemometer tower has been recently mounted on the site of the future Far East VES.

According to project owners, to ensure that wind-driven power plants operate as planned the windís minimal speed must be 5 m/sec. On the commencement day, June 16, a 7.6 m/sec speed was registered on Popova.

Data will be processed as the year continues to enable thorough modeling. Only then will the Russian and Japanese partners be able to decide if the project will be jointly pushed and investment allocated.

The Japanese may kick in as much as 50%, RusHydro reported.

Under plans, construction of the wind power station will start next year and is to be completed in early 2012.

Kamchatka next?

RusHydro feels thereís room for more wind power complexes in Primorsky Region with an aggregate capacity of up to 200MW. But this is just long-term vision rather than specific plans.

According to the federal Science and Innovations portal, construction of a number of wind and diesel powered systems is envisioned in Russiaís Far East to complement the current Vladivostok station. Most of them are expected in Kamchatka.

Many towns and settlements there are in very hard-to-reach places making any aerial power line from the regionís centralized generation system too costly. The cost benefits of a self-contained multi-purpose energy system that incorporates wind power and a diesel generator are compelling.

Itís too soon to say how much wind power will play a role in the future of Kamchatka and Yakutia, but RusHydroís new JV with the Japanese is off to a promising start.
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