Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Solar Power comes to Russia

It is easy to get excited about the Chinese investing $1 billion in solar energy for Russia.  It is an investment in the growing Sino-Russian relationship.  It is a nice big round number.  But really, is it something to get all that excited about?

Considering that reliable estimates put today's elections in USA at $4 billion and that mostly buys staggeringly stupid lies.  Or consider that the best estimates for a new F-35C Navy fighter plane are now at $337 million and that only covers production costs (and the damn thing barely flies.)  Or how about the newest nuclear power plant being built in Finland at $6.4 billion?  So while a billion bucks may sound like a lot by that standards of the wages paid to the poor Chinese kids assembling iPhones at $1.50 an hour, by the standards of big energy and infrastructure, it is just pocket change.

Even so, this investment includes a completely modern panel plant for Tatarstan so it means it is a long-term investment that can be used for future development.  It also suggests what an incredible bargain solar power is shaping up to be—and just remember, with solar, there are no fuel costs.

Staggering $1 Billion Chinese Investment in Russian Solar Energy

World's largest green energy investment brings solar plants to at least four Russian regions

RI Thu, Oct 30, 2014

China’s Solar Systems may become the largest investor in the Russian solar power industry. The company plans to construct a plant for the production of solar panels in Russia’s Tatarstan Republic next year.

Solar Systems is a subsidiary of China’s Amur Sirius, and estimates the total investment at around $1 billion, the company’s head of investment and finance Olga Bykova told Vedomosti.

In July 2014 Solar Systems won a tender to build 175 megawatt of solar energy capacity in three Russian regions. The company plans to have them working in 2016-2018.

The construction of the power plants is expected to cost around $450 million. The company wants to take part in other Russian tenders hence the plans to build the solar panel factory in Tatarstan costing up to $212.3 million. The investment could be recouped in six to eight years, Bykova says.

Russian legislation forces investors to construct solar power stations using domestically produced equipment, that’s why Solar Systems will localize production in the country. The factory will be able to produce at least 100 MW of solar panels a year.

Solar Systems is going to choose financial and technological partners by the end of the year. "We are considering six applications from both Chinese and European companies,” Bykova explains. The partner may get a share in the company.

"We are negotiating with a wide range of investors, including funds and banks, but it’s too early to talk about concrete results,” she says.

Sberbank, ING and IFC are among the companies participating in the negotiations. Solar System is considering keeping a quarter to a third of the company and is also planning to take a loan out in China for constructing the plant and solar facilities. more

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