Sun and prejudice: why solar energy does not take root in Russia? © Forbes Russia

World experience shows that the owners of buildings are interested in the use of solar energy: they save their money. However, in Russia, the introduction of new technologies faces unexpected obstacles.

In early February 2019, the State Duma passed the first reading of the bill, which allows private owners of solar panels to take the surplus of the received electricity and save on payment of bills. For the rest of the world is not a novelty. For example, in Germany, a similar law was adopted 28 years ago and now on a par with individuals gives preferences even to owners of commercial real estate.

The alternative energy market is growing. According to analysts of SolarPower Europe and PV Market Alliance, last year about 104.1 GW of solar power plants was built in the world. This is 5% more than in 2017.

The European market has grown even more impressive. In 2018, the EU countries have 36% more solar power plants than a year earlier. The leader was Germany, which put into operation about 3 GW stations. It is followed by Turkey, the Netherlands and France.

The growing demand for new technologies can be explained: solar energy today is cheaper than other sources of energy. Not to be unfounded, we present the results of the recent tender for the construction of a solar Park in Saudi Arabia. According to its results, the local company won, offering a price of 2.36 cents per kWh (equivalent to 1.56 rubles). The price for buyers will be fixed for 25 years. For comparison, in Moscow, the consumer pays for electricity 3.5 times more (5.47 rubles/kW.h), in the Krasnodar region — 3 times (4.69 rubles/kW.h), in the Omsk region — 2.5 times (3.92 rubles/kW.h.) And this is without taking into account the additional costs of obtaining technical specifications (TU) for the connection of the building, as well as the speed of construction of the station.

Why solar energy is chosen in the countries of the world except for Russia, the demand for solar panels is approximately the same worldwide. However, the causes of its occurrence are different everywhere.

In Africa, demand is driven by a lack of resources, an abundance of sun and a lack of energy infrastructure as such. Construction of a solar power plant from scratch in comparison with traditional thermal power plants is cheaper so that it is supported even at the level of state programs.

In Europe, America, and Asia, the situation is different, and demand is driven by the already high cost of electricity and the desire to reduce operating costs. For example, in Germany, a kilowatt-hour will cost the property owner 30 cents (19.8 rubles), in the US — from 9 to 30 cents (from 5.9 to 19.8 rubles), in Japan — 26 cents (17.2 rubles) At such prices, investments in solar panels pay off in 2-3 years and allow owners to obtain the required power for their building.

To speed up the return of investment in the energy supply of real estate help and the system of accumulation of energy on the basis of Li-ion batteries. These batteries can be used even without solar panels, solely to compensate for power during peak hours. During the night, the batteries are charged from the network at a low rate and then used during the day when the kilowatt-hour is more expensive.

It is not necessary to increase the area of land or real estate for the installation of solar panels and batteries because there are many solutions in the world that integrate them into the elements of the building. Already now in the construction of real estate used multi-colored facades and roofs, which together with the main purpose of generating electricity. Two years ago, the international school campus in Copenhagen with a total area of 6048 square meters was built from such materials. And by 2020, Audi will install solar power plants on the roof of two logistics centers.


How about Russia?

As we have seen, the world has long been on the path of local generation, while Russia still centrally produces heat and electricity, delivering it across half the country. In the absence of other solutions, this was justified in the twentieth century. But now, as energy continues to rise in price, and companies around the world are feeding buildings from solar panels, what is happening in Russia is puzzling.

In their practice, the participants of the solar energy market face opposition at every stage of work, but not from the owners of real estate, but from those who are responsible for the execution: power engineers, designers, installers. The main reason is the lack of competence of technical specialists in Russia, most of whom still live in the paradigm of the information that they learned in universities 20-30 years ago.


Here are some of their misconceptions:

Stereotype №1: as Long as it’s expensive

So you could say in the 80’s. Today, solar energy is cheaper than traditional energy sources, and operating costs tend to zero. You could be convinced of it above.

Stereotype №2: In Russia little sun

Truth is, that in Russia much more sun, than in many countries Europe, in particular in Germany. For example, in the Voronezh, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk region and Khabarovsk territory, a solar power plant with the correct angle of inclination will produce about 1150 kWh per 1 kilowatt of installed capacity per year. In the Rostov region, Krasnodar region or the far East, this figure is already 1300 kWh per 1 kW, which is comparable to Bulgaria, Spain and France.

Stereotype №3 It is dangerous and unknown

the World experience shows that the owners are interested in the use of solar energy: they save their money. In Russia today the position of the majority of the main power engineers responsible for it is simple: “You throw these bourgeois tricks! I don’t know what it is, and I won’t take responsibility.” Nevertheless, there are facilities where solar energy is used in Russia.

As an example, the plant L’oréal in the Kaluga region. The building is equipped with a solar power plant with a capacity of 500 kilowatts. Another example of our practice is a solar power plant with a capacity of 200 kW for a commercial agricultural facility in the Krasnodar region. A huge role in the decision-making at this facility was played by the awareness of the main power engineer about the principles of operation of solar equipment, as well as the position of the owner, whose business operates around the world.


What will help to change the situation?

As we were able to see, even if the state Duma will allow tomorrow to take the surplus of solar electricity, the prospects for this sector in Russia are vague. And they will remain so until two problems are solved:

  1. Energy and chief project engineers should be immersed in the global communication environment and know English. With this, many problems — they read only the information that is in Russian, and its relevance is very doubtful.
  2. A new generation of young power engineers and chief engineers of the project should come. It is crucial that this generation is not trained by experts of the old school, knew English, happened on projects abroad and was interested in new technologies. Often, graduates of foreign universities who have come for training know more about technologies in modern energy than specialists who have worked in Russia for decades.

Will our countrymen in this way? For the prospects of solar energy in Russia, this is a matter of paramount importance.


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