Under draft plans, grid operators would be required to run tenders and award 15-year offtake agreements to successful wind farm developers, with – as-yet unspecified – fines and sanctions in place for utilities that do not comply.
The government hopes this will encourage private investment in the growing Russian wind power sector and spread development to new areas.
To date, most Russian wind farms have been built or are being developed in windy western provinces such as Murmansk, Rostov and Stavropol Krai, with development controlled by regional authorities.
The planned tenders would be in addition to – rather than replace – the auction scheme that has seen the likes of Enel, Fortum and Rosatom awarded capacity, and is targeting corporate power deals.
Successful implementation of these plans, which also include simplifying the rules for selecting wind power projects to invest in, could result in up to 1GW of new capacity in the next few years, according to industry estimates.
RAWI, the Russian wind power association, welcomed the plans in the hope that they could provide an impetus to develop wind projects across more of the country.
"The retail market for wind energy in Russia is currently negligible, yet it represents huge potential for investors,” RAWI head Igor Bryzgunov told Windpower Monthly.
“But there are several barriers that market participants are now working to overcome. These are mainly related to the legal side of the return on investments, which come from a tariff set by local regulators,” he added.
He gives the example of RusHydro – Russia’s largest hydroelectricity company – looking for companies to build wind-diesel projects in Kamchatka, north-east Russia.
However, Bryzgynov is less optimistic when it comes to implementing plans to force grid operators to purchase wind energy. He thinks this could “face serious difficulties due to the imperfection of Russian legislation in this field at present”.
In a seperate development, Vetroparki FRV, part of Rusnano Management Company, has launched a tender for the 176MW Astrakhan wind farm cluster, to take place on 16 September, according to RAWI.
The cluster will conprise five wind farms — Kholmskaya, Staritskaya, Izuluchnaya, and Manlanskaya — all due online by the end of 2021, with a total investment of RUB 12 billion ($165 million).