In recent years Russia has pursued an isolationist and nationalistic energy policy.
After the disastrous privatisations of the Yeltsin years, and backed by record high oil and gas prices, the Russian government resisted foreign investment in its energy sector and refused to be drawn into an international legal energy framework.
Now, however, the mood in Moscow seems to be shifting. With prices having come down, and oil and gas becoming harder to extract, the Russian government seems ready to accept the need for foreign investment and technology to maintain its oil and gas production and to make a transition to a more sustainable and efficient energy economy.
Russia seems to be ready for more international cooperation in the energy sector. The Russian government is considering easing legal hurdles for foreign companies wanting to invest in the Russian energy sector. It also wants to attract foreign investment in sustainable energy and energy efficiency projects. And it is preparing a ‘Global Energy Code’ after rejecting the Energy Charter Treaty. ‘The plan is to create global production and technology chains in the supply of Russian energy resources.’
Russia is still pursuing the idea of a new international energy law. According to Boris Reutov from the Federal Agency for Science and Innovation. Russia’s new energy strategy calls not only for a considerable increase in nuclear energy and hydropower, but also for the development of renewable energy sources. ‘We plan to expand their share, currently 0.9 percent, to 4.5 percent by 2030,’ ‘That’s a lot for us, because in absolute numbers it means 17 to 18 gigawatts.’ In Reutov’s estimation, the biggest contribution to renewable energy can be made by harnessing energy from biomass, a resource Russia is rich in.
Further potential exists for small hydroelectric power plants, geothermal energy, wind and solar energy. This is one conclusion that emerged from the 3rd German-Russian Raw Materials Forum (Deutsch-Russische Rohstoff Konferenz) held on 18 March in Freiberg, Germany. At the forum, the prominent Russian energy politician Valery Yazev said the Russian government is preparing ‘the concept of a Global Energy Code’. According to the Deputy Chairman of the Russian parliament Yazev, who is as well the Chairman of the Russian Gas Society, President Medvedev has drawn up a draft version of such a code.
A German-Russian working group of the ‘Petersburg Dialogue’ discussion forum discussed the draft in early March. The details of the new Global Energy Code concept – made in Russia – would be unveiled in May.