25 Feb 2010 14:31

Consolidate Russian hydroelectric power for expansion abroad, MinEnergy suggests

MOSCOW. Feb 25 (Interfax) - The Russian Energy Ministry is proposing that the country's hydroelectric energy producers be consolidated for future expansion abroad.

Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said at a Thursday meeting of hydropower producers that his ministry is discussing with the management of generating company RusHydro the consolidation of sector companies, including project, repair and building, and scientific outfits around the genco. The end-goal of consolidation, Shmatko said, is moving onto foreign markets.

RusHydro has indicated repeatedly that one of its main priorities is moving onto markets outside Russia.

RusHydro brings together most of Russia's hydroelectric power plants, and is the country's largest genco with established capacity of 25.3 gigawatts. It includes Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant (HPP), which is currently operating only one generating block (640 mWt), while its other nine undergo overhauls in the wake of a major deadly accident on August 17, 2009. This plant should be fully back up and running in 2014.

"In 2010 we will be making every effort to consolidate the sector, which earlier contained within itself a single mechanism for working in new circumstances," Shmatko said.

Consolidation involves "project organizations, resources, associated with special reconstruction organizations, and science," he said. The Energy Ministry will be working on consolidating hydropower companies together with RusHydro.

Giving the sector a new face is necessary for the ambitious tasks of expanding to foreign markets, Shmatko said. "There are more than a dozen projects for setting up hydropower plants in both rich and poor countries being discussed today," he said. Russia has already carried out hydropower plant building projects abroad, plants that are still in fine working order, he said.

"This is the best preference for Russian hydropower," Shmatko said.

RusHydro chief Yevgeny Dod told reporters that plans for company expansion abroad might be realized with government support and out of the company's own pockets in proportion dependent on each given project.

The foreign market is also promising for the development of this sort of power production when one considers climate, which "in the long-term perspective will lead to carbon taxes," which will mount obstacles to thermal generation and favor generation using renewable energy, Shmatko said. Wind and solar power will not reach industrial capacity anytime soon, he said, so hydropower generation is a promising avenue of development for the world market.