The radio broadcast of the programme “Actualniy Mikrofon” (“Topical Microphone”), held on 14 June, featured the staff of the project “Removing Barriers to Wind Power Development in Belarus” – Marina Belous (Project Head) and Denis Kovalenko (Technical Coordinator) – who discussed with the host – Elena Vakhromeeva – the state and prospects of renewable energy in Belarus.
Marina Belous said that the issue of “clean” renewable energy is becoming increasingly topical in our country in view of the recently signed Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“What is meant by renewable energy in general, and with regard to Belarus in particular?”, inquired the journalist.
Denis Kovalenko explained that it refers to renewable energy sources: “Renewable energy comprises: wind, solar and hydro power, geothermal, biogas and biomass energy. And all of these sources to a certain extent are used in the Republic of Belarus, only geothermal energy is used marginally and, primarily, in heat pumps of private households.”
The expert announced the data regarding industrial generation of renewable energy in Belarus, as of the 1st quarter of 2016:
• more than 3,000 energy sources from firewood (with the total capacity of over 6,000 MW);
• 16 biogas units (about 22.5 MW);
• 50 hydropower plants;
• 18 heat pumps (more than 10 MW);
• 29 photovoltaic power plants operating on solar power (about 13-14 MW);
• 287 solar water heaters (about 4 MW);
• 56 wind power turbines (about 45 MW).
Elena Vakhromeeva inquired about the share of RES in the overall energy balance of the country, and asked the experts to talk about the prospects for renewable energy development in Belarus and the available required potential.
“As of the end of 2015, the share of RES in the overall energy consumption in Belarus was 5.6%. And according to the approved documents, including the programme “Energy Saving” for 2016-2020, it is envisaged that as early as in 2018 the share of renewable energy sources will amount to 6%”, said Denis Kovalenko.
The expert expressed confidence that renewable energy in Belarus will be developed, as this has a significant potential, promotes the development and a number of agreements signed at the international level, as well as the development of modern technology, allow the sector to become more cost-effective: “Belarus is located on a fairly large territory and has the potential in different types of renewable energy. Regarding wind power, taking into account the geographical features of Belarus (temperate continental climate, the predominance of plains, no access to the sea), which limit strong winds, the development of wind power industry is still available to us. Wind power technology is constantly advancing, and modern industrial wind turbines allow to use even a small wind potential: the rotation of a turbine starts at the wind speed of 3 m/s, and the nominal capacity is reached at 9-10 m/s. And at the most promising sites (in the north-eastern and central parts of Belarus) at an altitude of around 100 m (the approximate height of the rotor), the average annual wind speed ranges from 6 to 10 m/s.”
The expert pointed out the need to develop renewable energy on the basis of electrical shortage in certain areas, to compare the characteristics of different types of RES and choose the best, or even combine them: “If wind farms are more dependent on the characteristics of the terrain, then, for example, solar power plants are more dependent on connectivity to the grid. At the same time, wind energy does not require a significant extraction of agricultural land, in contrast to solar energy, and so on.”
Marina Belous spoke about the international technical assistance project “Removing Barriers to Wind Power Development in Belarus”, explained in detail the types and kinds of barriers in this sector, and shared with the listeners the achievements and plans of the project.
Project Head informed that the development and implementation of regulatory legal acts to promote the development of wind power are anticipated. She drew attention to the legal or regulatory barriers to investors: “Although the legal framework of the Republic of Belarus is seen by experts as highly favorable for the development of wind power, yet investors, both foreign and local, need the information: what licensing procedures (obtaining land, approvals and permits) and pre-steps are to be undergone in the implementation of investment projects on construction of wind farms.”
The project work is aimed at optimization and search for financing the construction of wind farms: “The project is trying to interact with various foundations, organizations and banks, who are interested in the development of “green” energy on an industrial scale”, added Marina Belous.
Elena Vakhromeeva asked to sum everything up and describe to the listeners the anticipated results of the project “Removing Barriers to Wind Power Development in Belarus”.
Project Head said that the project expects to find solutions to a variety of issues associated with the development of wind power in Belarus, but the main generalized results will be the following:
• reworked and prepared proposals on amendments to the legislation;
• conducted wind measurements and all the pre-project and project activities for the construction of wind power turbines with a total capacity of not less than 25 MW;
• an established funding mechanism for wind power projects, which will allow a potential investor to be able to implement a project on the construction of a wind farm with minimum risk to their investment.
Marina Belous also brought into view the current trend to increase economic efficiency in the sector of wind energy: “Technologies are evolving, and there is a global pattern: with the doubling of the total capacity of wind turbines in the world, the cost of electricity from the wind is reduced by 15-20%. Today, both international and Belarusian energy experts say that the cost of electricity production from the wind is equal to, or even below, the cost of production of electricity from conventional energy sources, for example, from the gas. And nowadays, investment in wind power is considered to be an economically profitable project, and not just a concern for the environment.”