Ural Federal University: Scientists Evaluated the Opportunities for Green Energy Development in the Sverdlovsk Region

The Sverdlovsk region has the potential to generate electricity from renewable energy sources (RES), according to an international team of scientists. The researchers analyzed the prospects and key barriers to the development of alternative energy in the region. The authors presented a map of the region, which indicated the possibility of locating power plants powered by renewable resources. The results of the study are published in the Journal Energy Reports.

The development of green energy is one of the main strategic directions of eco-modernization of the Russian energy sector. Researchers note: assessment of renewable energy potential without a regional reference does not provide a complete objective picture. It is necessary to take into account climatic and geographical features of a particular area, as well as features of the existing energy system, which, in particular, is important for developed industrial regions. That is why scientists chose the Sverdlovsk region and studied the potential of solar energy, wind energy, bioenergy and small hydropower in the region. The authors of the study concluded that the key areas of green energy development in the region could be hydroelectric power plants and energy production from biomass for the development of small-scale power generation.

“Small hydropower plants could provide electricity to small communities and remote areas, for example, in Alapaevsky, Verkhotursky, and Serovsky Districts. The use of biomass (in particular, organic waste, sewage sludge) could also become an alternative source of energy. Bioenergy facilities should be located near large livestock enterprises, such as the state farms “Uralsky”, “Bogoslovsky”, and “Artinsky”. Savings of non-renewable fuel sources from the development of bioenergy can reach more than 360 tons per year,” says Anzhelika Karaeva, PhD student at the Ural Federal University Department of Environmental Economics and a student of the PhD program at Insubria University, a co-author of the study.

Scientists note that an abrupt transition to environmentally friendly fuels is not possible, as it would lead to a shortage of electricity in the region for the period of reconstruction. Gradual transition away from non-polluting fuels (for example, coal) can provide eco-modernization of already existing conventional power facilities. The use of modern environmental technologies will reduce emissions of hazardous materials into the atmosphere.

“The transition to natural gas, for example, will require modernization of power plant equipment, especially boiler equipment, revision of the entire energy balance, a large free volume of natural gas will be needed. All this will require considerable expenses. Therefore, the use of environmental technologies is the best solution to reduce emissions and discharges of hazardous materials from power plants. This approach will make it possible to develop green energy without any power shortages, while reducing the negative impact on the environment,” explains Professor Elena Magaril, Head of the Department of Environmental Economics at Ural Federal University’s Research and Education “Engineering-economical, financial, ecological-economical studies and educational programs in hi-tech industries”.

As a result of the study, the authors identified key barriers and assessed the prospects for RES development in the region, as well as developed a map of potential RES use in Sverdlovsk region. The scientists noted that green energy could replace no more than 6% of all electricity production in the region in the medium term.

“Taking into account our climate, geographical location, the current state of the region’s energy infrastructure, a fairly high demand for electricity and the relative cheapness and availability of natural energy, an increase in the share of green energy by more than 6-7% is an excellent indicator. This is a very good indicator. However, it is important to keep in mind that in practice it will take a lot of money and time to reach this level. But the development of small-scale power generation based on hydro and biomass energy is an effective solution for remote regions of the Sverdlovsk region, which meets the goals of sustainable development and increases the energy security of the region,” adds Elena Magaril.

Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg) representatives and the Universities of Trento and Insubria (Italy) worked on the study.

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