Russia’s largest solar plant of 5 MW capacity has come online in Kosh-Agach located at Kosh-Agachsky District of the Altai Republic region. The entire Kosh-Agachsky district has a power demand of 2.7-3.5 MW, the surplus solar power would be sold to neighbouring regions.

Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow

As per official sources this is the first of five projects with a total capacity of 45 MW of solar power that have been planned in this region. The solar power plant has come up at a cost of RUB 570 million ($15.3 million), while the total project is expected to cost about RUB5 billion ($134.8 million).. The project has been taken up by state-run construction firm, Avelar and another state-owned company, Khevel (also written ‘Hevel’ in English).

The launch of the system was a high profile event, Russian president Mr. Vladimir Putin who followed the launch via video conference said:

“We have always said that we will give significant attention to renewable sources of energy. This does not seem necessary for this country, the richest in hydrocarbons, and expert assessment shows that despite growing energy consumption in the world, the consumption structure should not change in the next few decades and hydrocarbons will remain as important as they are today.

The development of nuclear power will also remain at the forefront. However, for remote areas the use of alternative renewable sources of energy is an extremely important area.”

In spite of the ‘largest’ tag attached to it, the Kosh-Agach solar plant is quite small. Despite its large potential in the country, solar energy is virtually non-existent in Russia. Russia plans to set up an overall solar capacity of 150 MW by 2020. Interestingly as per NREL data Berlin has an average solar insolation of 3 kWh/m2/year, almost the same as Moscow which gets 2.96 kWh/m2/year.

Russia currently gets just 0.5 percent of its total annual power output, estimated at 200 gigawatt (GW) from renewable sources (excluding large scale hydropower). In May, Russia lowered its 2020 renewable energy ambitions from 4.5% of power generated to 2.5%.