Strange alternative or real? What is the assessed role of renewable energy – Murmansk prospectus

The development of the Arctic requires significant energy resources – for the development of industrial production and life support in cities and towns in conditions of extremely low temperatures. What sources should be chosen to produce the much needed energy? Experts discussed this topic at a meeting of the Discussion Club of the Sustainable Development Laboratory of the Arctic Development Project Office.

What is the most toxic is another question

The power system of the Murmansk region, recalls Alexey Karpov, chief scientific secretary of the Kola Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is currently represented by the Kola NPP and several groups of hydroelectric power stations. This is power generation. Heat is generated in solar thermal power plants and many boiler houses.

According to Karpov, it is necessary to introduce renewable energy sources. Today, Enel Russia is building a wind farm with a capacity of 201 megawatts of electric power in the region.

For our country, wind energy is still exotic. In Germany, its production is running. Yes, this is called green energy. But, remember the world, in connection with the rise in gas prices in Germany, they again began to talk about corn.

The nuclear power industry has a high efficiency factor, and plans for the production and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste are well established. On the other side of the scale is people’s fear of corn. People are afraid of the same radioactive waste. But then why not talk about recycling batteries from electric cars? This may become a major problem in the near future. And it is still not known what is the most toxic – wasting peaceful atom or spent batteries.

In everything there are pros and cons. Alternative energy sources have excellent safety records. But I see them exclusively as a reserve – Alexey Karpov summed up.

Hydrogen is good, but carrying it is annoying

Vladimir Maslopov, Adviser to the Head of the Kula Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, explained that the energy sector in our region, even today, does not have a large carbon footprint. Approximately 35 percent of the total electricity production is hydropower generation.

There are also prospects regarding the development of other renewable energy sources (RES). Therefore, strong winds blow in the western part of the peninsula, and along the coast there are suitable places for the construction of tidal power stations. However, there is one unpleasant “but”: we already have more than enough electricity.

Our sore point is housing and communal services, or rather, heat supply. The region operates Murmanskaya and Apatitskaya thermal power plants, as well as 130 fuel-oil and coal-fired boilers.

But we have nowhere to put electricity for the same Enel Russia. Therefore, an agreement has already been signed with Rosnano on the establishment of pilot production of hydrogen, which will be supplied to the European Union. It’s about $55 million a year.

By the way, hydrogen is now considered the most promising fuel. According to some estimates, by 2050 it will cover up to a quarter of the world’s fuel needs. In our country, the main producers have already been identified – Rosatom, Gazprom and Novatek. Experts believe that in the next decade, Russia will be able to provide 10 to 15 percent of the world’s hydrogen exports.

But even here, according to Maslobov, there is a fly in the ointment. The main problem is the transportation of hydrogen to the place of consumption and its further storage.

Hydrogen is very difficult to store and transport because its molecules are so small. The scientist explained that they embrittle all materials, including alloys of steel, nickel and titanium, due to the formation of hydrides.

True, according to Gazprom, up to 20 percent of hydrogen can be mixed with natural gas in main pipelines. In new branches, we supply the same Stream, up to 70 percent.

Another way out is to combine hydrogen and nitrogen and get ammonia. Techniques to work with have always been put in place. Ammonia itself is a good source of fuel for shipping. It can also be used as a method of hydrogen transport.

The trick hasn’t worked yet

Transport contributes significantly to air pollution in Arctic cities, emphasized Alexey Bayevsky, Vice President of the NTI Efficiency Center in the direction of “Technologies for creating new and portable energy sources.” Therefore, in his opinion, it is necessary, first of all, to transfer the general equipment of rolling stock in cities and railways to hydrogen.

The transition to renewable energy sources, as noted by Moscow State University Professor Sergey Nikonov, is one of the goals of sustainable development. Many countries have set the goal of raising their share to 50 percent by 2050. By 2020, the European Union has achieved a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and raised the share of renewable energy to the same 20 percent. In the Scandinavian countries, this share is 35-45 percent.

In Russia, the proportion of RES, according to the professor, is less than one percent! Nikonov is sure that there is a need for a strategy for the low-carbon development of the country’s energy sector. To reduce the energy intensity of production, it is necessary to introduce advanced technologies, as well as to develop renewable energy itself.

We often view renewables, according to Simon Kalmykov, energy consultant at the Bellona Environmental Society, as a bit of a joke. And this joke, apparently, we have not yet succeeded. The same wind farms are being built, instead, as pictured projects. The situation must change, according to the ecologist, and RES must be taken seriously.


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