13 August 2013
The coordinator of the plan realization is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation. A working expert group is organized for discussing this topic in the Ministry. Experts from different fields are presented there. Olga Rakitova, the CEO of the National Bioenergy Union is one of them. INFOBIO has asked several questions from Mrs Rakitova.
-What do you think about Russian bioenergy sector in total?
- The total capacity of pellets plants in Russia is about 3 000 000 tons per year. The biggest company is “Vyborgskaya Lesopromyshlenaya Corporation”. This company  is increasing the production volume of wood pellets rapidly. While it is not reach the annual capacity of 9 00 000 tons, it produced and exported about 500 000 tons of pellets in 2012. The company management tells that they would increase the production in the near future and meets 900 000 tons per year in 2013-2014.
The main problem for Vyborg plant is lack of needed timber resources in the surrounding area. Wood is delivered from far North-Western territories in Karelia, far Leningrad region and some others regions. The delivery shoulder is more than 500 km in a lot of cases. However, Vyborg plant is the biggest pellet plant in Europe. Andritz constructed this plant several years ago on a border with Finland in Leningrad region
Another indicative event which was occurred in 2012 is the start of operations in Far East company – “Arkhaim” which exports all produced pellets to South Korea. The capacity of the plant is 250 000 tons per year. CPM presses are installed there. Company is located in Khabarovsk region in the Far East of Russia.
At the same time most of pellets are produced in the Central and North-Western part of Russia and Western Siberia. Majority of produced pellets are exported to European Union by trucks, ships and railway.
- Should the Russian government supports the bioenergy developments and biofuel usage inside Russia? What do you think about it?
Of course, they should support it. Let’s look on the European countries and their experience. For example Austria. They started to use wood chips for district heating in 1980. Today more than 1000 villages are heated with district heating plants fired by wood chips. Sawmill industry started to use bark as fuel for the drying of wood even earlier. Pellet use stated in 1997 and has grown very fast since then. Wood fuels are very prominent for domestic heating, more than 25% of all new domestic heating systems are based on wood fuels. Households either use logwood in special gasification boilers or pellets. I think pellet stoves will also see a very rapid market growth because of the low investment costs and the high comfort they offer. A fast growing market segment is pellet and chip use in commercial sector. In general the use of bioenergy for heat is growing stronger than for electricity production because it is much more economic.
About 20% of Austrian primary energy needs are covered with biomass, mostly wood fuels. This share will increase further.  How do they support it? Theye have grants for buying pellet stoves (500€) and wood fuel boilers (typically 2000€) for residential use and a grant scheme for district heating plants (approx. 30% of investment ). For CHP plants there are feed in tariffs offering a premium of approx. 6 cent above the market prices. If you compare the subsidy systems in terms of Euro per MWh of energy produced, subsidies for electricity production have to be about 10 times higher than for heat production to make it economic.
I am sure that this experience could be used in Russia as well.
- One of the first items in the State Plan of biboenergy development is studying of foreign experience. Which experience (in addition to Austrian) could be used in Russia as well?
- I would recommend to study the experience of Netherland government one year ago but today they reduced the State support in several times and I wouldn’t recommend to repeat their politics. At the same time there are countries as Denmark or Sweden where the bioenergy policy is developed very positively and intelligent. We should also study the Finish experience. This country is very close to Russian. It has forest and climate conditions which could be compared with our country.