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Nearest Future of Russian Power Engineering
September 16, 2007 16:02

Power plant

Eminent Russian scientists tend to think that future of Russian power engineering lies in building thousands small heat and power plants with modern gas-turbine units, which allow rapid increase of power production and saving gas.

Today total installed capacity of Russian power engineering is 216 gigawatt, two thirds of which are generated at thermoelectric power stations, 1/6 is produced at hydroelectric power stations and the last 1/6 goes to nuclear power plants. Main fuel for thermoelectric power stations is gas (66%), however, coal and oil are also used to make our houses warm in winter – coal shares 30%, and the rest is fueled by oil. Nowadays Russian power engineering fails to provide required energy amount both to industry and housing and communal services. Experts predict collapse of cultural and industrial Russia in case power engineering capacity won’t add 45-50% to its current state within next 20-30 years. Solution is upgrading obsolete equipment and building new power plants, however, a question exists – what kind of power plants should we build?

The situation forces thoughts to turn to alternative energy sources, which unfortunately are yet not popular and widely used in our country. Solar batteries, wind farms and tidal power plants can be effective only in small part of Russian territories, besides, energy storage and servicing of such devices are quite costly. Professionals predict share of alternative energy sources in Russia won’t exceed 1.5-2% during next 30-50 years. Caucasus and Far East are suitable for geothermal power plants, however, contribution of said plants to Russian economy is minimal. In Russia fashionable trend of “hydrogen power engineering” is economically sound only, when hydrogen comes from excessive power capacities of nuclear power plants at night, is stored as gas and then burned in combined-cycle plants during peak loads. Nevertheless, hydrogen power engineering is an expensive process and won’t recover in our countries for several decades. We, however, should be ready to introduce hydrogen power engineering after 2050.


Building new nuclear power plants is no less costly, because some industries and construction organizations have to be opened. However, building 6-8 powerful plants in European Russia and 2-3 plants in Siberia and Far East, as well as several floating power plants for Northern regions won’t do any harm. Forecasts predict coal to play crucial role for Siberian territories, however, it should be used according new technologies – coal is converted into synthesis gas, which is fuel for various means of transport, and exhaust is purified from any hazardous compounds. All mentioned innovations will increase allocations to coal thermoelectric power stations, however, we should face that their development is inevitable.

Main fuel for Russian power engineering for several decades is gas. Russia owns large deposits of gas, and it is cheaper in storage than electric power. Gas is evident reference point for building small power plants, equipped with up-to-date combined-cycle plants. It usually takes 5-7 years to build a new power plant, and 2.5-3 years to replace steam turbine with combined-cycle plant. However, we can use existing heat and power plants and combine steam turbines with gas turbines, allowing coefficient of efficiency for such units to reach 60%.

There is one more advantage in building small power plants – significant lowering expenses for network systems due to shorter distance between a plant and energy consumer. Another effective technique is decentralization of heat supply. Rapid power increase requires building thousands of small (1-30 megawatt) heat and power plants with gas-turbine units on the base of existing boiler-rooms – expected capacity will reach 15-20 gigawatt in next 10-15 years, and later reach 30-40 gigawattype.

    Russian Science News
Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian scientists Russian science Far East Siberia Russian technologies 

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