Creating a Synergy: Renewable Energy to Develop the Russian Arctic

Creating a Synergy: Renewable Energy to Develop the Russian Arctic

Dmitry Alexandrovich Solovyev (Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russia), Maria Olegovna Morgunova (Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia & KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Russia) and Alexander Alekseyevich Solovyev (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9179-5.ch006


The chapter focuses on different aspects and challenges of power supply for remote energy consumers in the Russian Arctic. The authors discuss the potential use of renewable energy, some specified technological features and risks related to the broader deployment of decentralized renewable energy systems in the Arctic region. Even though there is limited experience of renewable energy systems installation in the Russian Arctic and greater technological challenges, the authors see it as a potential opportunity to contribute to innovative and sustainable development of the region. The authors underline the potential synergistic effect of broader deployment of renewable energy systems in the Russian Arctic. The key argument is that a sustainable and efficient energy system will open new development opportunities and stimulate future socioeconomic development of the region through the use of local and renewable energy resources and the implementation of new power generation modes and technologies.
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Arctic is a special geographical area with fragile nature, harsh climate and huge economic potential. It is attractive not only due to the presence of natural resources, which can be extracted, but the Arctic is becoming an international “playground” to explore innovative technology and business approaches. The latest examples of transforming Arctic challenges into opportunities are Arctic data centers (Kelion, 2017) to save energy on cooling, and floating LNG liquefaction plants (Shell, 2018) minimizing footprint during offshore natural gas production especially in the Arctic.

Even though Arctic is rich and prospective in many ways, the key issue is availability of efficient energy supply. Arctic is rich in energy resources of different kinds, but at the same time lacks sufficient and stable energy supply due to its remoteness, low population and harsh weather conditions. Energy supply insufficiency is a huge challenge for future economic development of the Arctic territories throughout the North Pole. At the same time, it stimulates business and science communities, as well as governments to find efficient solutions.

In this chapter the main focus is on the Russian Arctic, even though both challenges and opportunities connected to energy system development are valid for all the Arctic territories and also some sub-Arctic areas. The Russian Arctic is also one of the most extreme cases, since Russia possesses the vast Arctic territories, which are mostly uninhabited and have very limited communication and infrastructure. At the same time, the Russian Arctic is considered to be the richest in natural resources, especially oil and natural gas, and very attractive for international transit and transportation along the Northern Sea Route (Kovalenko et al., 2018). Nevertheless, the same challenges are present in the Arctic zones of other circumpolar countries (USA, Canada, Greenland, etc.).

Due to the growing interest towards the Russian Arctic, the issue of energy supply and energy infrastructure development in the region becomes more urgent. Vast energy resources in the Russian Arctic are imported from other parts of the country. Insufficient transport infrastructure and harsh climate complicate the logistics of energy resources supply. Transportation complexity, thus high transport costs of fuel affect the final cost of energy produced.

Owing to the latest technological advances in energy generation and distribution, there is a possibility to widely introduce renewable energy in the Arctic, using decentralized and combined power supply regimes (Gabderahmanova et al., 2016; Solovyev, 2017). The new technologies are able to ensure stable, sustainable and efficient energy supply, giving broad possibilities for the Arctic region economic development. The most promising in terms of reducing the cost of transporting fuel in the Arctic regions of Russia are local renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, water and biomass (Morgunova and Soloviev, 2016). Besides, renewable energy systems are minimizing human impact on the environment.

An improvement within the energy sector can give a higher impact on reaching the strategic economic, social and environmental goals. By implementing new models of energy supply, Arctic communities can receive additional combined value from the sustainable development, new technologies and new business opportunities without harm to the unique and sensitive Arctic nature. Following this idea, the chapter is focused on experiences and examples from different circumpolar countries.

The chapter is structured as follows. First, there is an analysis of the renewable energy sources potential in the Russian Arctic and their current use. Second, it is followed by a discussion of the application of decentralized and combined modes of power generation based on renewable and fossil fuels in the Arctic. Third, there is a more detailed analysis of technical peculiarities of the application of renewable energy generation facilities in the Arctic and risks related to that. After that the chapter suggests some ideas on the possibility of creating a synergistic effect of energy system development in the Russian Arctic due to new opening opportunities. Finally, the chapter concludes on the perspectives of using renewable energy in the Russian Arctic.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Renewable Energy Potential: Is the amount of energy from renewable energy sources available in a given area (not specifying technical or economic potential).

Power Generation Stability: Means a constant and sufficient flow of electricity coming from an energy generation facility, satisfying customer needs and covering consumption peaks.

Established Energy Supply Regime: In transition theory, this means existing and broadly functioning principles of energy generation and supply, including technologies, existing infrastructure and institutional setting.

Arctic: Is a territory north of the Arctic Circle (66°32'N).

Intermittent Energy Source: Is an energy source that is not continuously available or not providing a constant flow of electricity generated, such as wind and solar energy.

Decentralized Energy Generation: Energy generation facilities are placed close to a consumer. This term also may include that energy generation is “off-grid,” which means it is stand-alone and not connected to the grid, and “autonomous,” as it is not dependent on other generation facilities or grid and as a rule are based on an energy mix (combined power supply).

Socio-Technical Regime: Is a dominance of certain social and institutional routines, as well as technical solutions, which are linked together into a one functioning piece.

Local and Renewable Energy Sources: Include energy resources available locally (including oil and natural gas) and renewable energy sources as tidal energy, solar, wind, and waste of timber and woodworking industry.

Synergy: Means elements combined in a certain way give greater total effect than just a sum of those elements.

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