Russia To Go With Domestically Sourced HJT Modules for Largest Solar Project

Russia, a laggard among major economies when it comes to solar adoption, will be using HJT (Heterojunction) solar panels from domestic firm Hevel Solar for its largest solar plant. Hevel Group with its factory in Novocheboksarsk, Russia produces 340 MW of HJT solar modules per year, after a recent capacity expansion. The firm claims to have supplied 711 MW of solar modules so far in its existence.

The 116MW project, to be developed in Kalmykia (officially the republic of Kalmykia), in the country’s south, is being built  by a joint venture between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Finland’s Fortum, which has existing investments in Russia.

The Kalmykia project will be developed in two phases, 78MW by Q4 2021 and 38MW in 2022.

While Russia’s reluctance on solar has been well known, with geographical factors like less sunshine days being a key factor, what is probably not appreciated enough is the country’s reluctance to use foreign imports in a big way for its core sector. Pride in its own technology capabilities meant that Russia was always going to take its own time warming up to Solar or even Wind energy, where it doe not really have any global scale manufacturing player.

The energy sector in particular is also dominated by large oil firms like Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil and others. With an economy heavily dependent on oil and gas exports for over 80 percent of earnings, weaning thinking away from oil has also been a challenge.

Renewable energy usually refers to Hydropower in the country, with Geothermal energy a close second. Solar is negligible, while Wind has barely made a dent.

Unfortunately, Russia has also been cool to the threat of climate change, preferring instead to either ignore it or even deny the more extreme scenarios that are increasingly finding traction in the rest of the world. Part of that skepticism has to do with the fact that the initial impact of warming is considered ‘not so bad’ for Russia, with ports that could be ice free for a much longer period, opening up cheaper and faster trading opportunities.

With a ‘sphere of influence’ that is still significant in the former soviet republics, it is in everyone’s interest to hope, and do what it takes to get the Russians on board with the expansion of renewable energy.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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