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Russia, its renewable energy drive and the geothermal opportunity

Mutnovsky geothermal power plant, Kamchatka/ Russia (source: englishrussia.com)
Alexander Richter 2 Sep 2015

With a geothermal potential of around 2,000 MW for electricity generation and 3,000 MW for district heating systems, there are great opportunities. How realistically they could be realized is another story.

In a recent piece published in the Huffington Post, Russia is described as to be “moving ahead with its own green renewable energy industrial transformation”.

The article describes some rather interesting examples of small renewable projects in remote areas of Russia, such as above the Arctic Circle and the Far East on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

While here mostly wind and solar installations are named, the article also mentions geothermal energy. Particularly the lead of the Soviet Union in the 1960s on geothermal development in Kamchatka should be of interest.

Today, Russia has an installed capacity of 81.9 MW in 5 geothermal power plants. The Pauzhetskaya plant was actually commissioned in 1966 and is thereby one of the oldest plans operating today. Two other plants were built on the Kamchatka Peninsula in 1999 and 2002. Two smaller additional plants were installed on the islands of Kunashir and Iturup in 2007.

In their country update as part of the World Geothermal Congress 2015, V. Svalova and K. Povarov provided an overview on the current operation and potential.

“Today almost all the territory of the country is well investigated. It was found that numerous regions have reserves of hot geothermal fluid with the temperature from 50 up to 200 0 C at depth from 200 to 3000 m. These areas are located in the European part of Russia: Central region; Northern Caucasus; Daghestan; in Siberia: Baikal rift area, Krasnoyarsk region, Chukotka, Sakhalin. Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands have the richest resources of geothermal power available for the production of up to 2000 MW of electricity and for more than 3000 MW of heat for district heating system.

Utilization of geothermal resources in Russia is especially important for heat supply to northern territories of our country. In Russia more than 45% of total energy resources are used for heat supply of cities, settlements and industrial complexes. Up to 30% of those energy resources can be provided using geothermal heat. Utilization of geothermal heat is planned in the following regions of Russia: Krasnodar Region (heat supply of Labinsk town as well as complex geothermal use in Rozoviy town), Kaliningrad Region and Kamchatka (heat supply of Yelizovo and construction of Pauzhetsky binary power plant of 2,5 MW capacity and extension of the existing Mutnovsky GeoPP (50 MW) utilize secondary steam for the production up to 12 MW of electricity.”

So the potential of 400 MW of geothermal power generation capacity as described in the Huffington Post article, can be seen as understating the actual potential.

The realistic potential likely lies somewhere between the 40o MW and the 2,000 MW given above. But the more interesting part is the role geothermal could play for heating.

 

Source: Huffington Post, Svalova, V. & Povarov, K. “Geothermal Energy Use in Russia, Country Update for 2010-2015” (WGC2015)