The Future of Renewable Energy in Russia


This project focuses on the regional dynamics of renewable energy (RE) uptake in Russia. Russia, the fifth top emitter of CO2 globally, has a large RE potential, but lags behind in technology development and uptake. New policy instruments in support of RE adopted since 2013 by the Russian government have had varying effects in Russian regions: whereas some regions actively engaged in RE uptake, others did not. Who pushes for renewables in the Russian regions remains unclear. In this research, I argue that the combination of local development goals of regional authorities and the profit interests of private actors create “windows of opportunity” for RE uptake. The empirical research objectives are threefold: to identify private sector advocates and investors of RE in the Russian regions; to investigate the forms and mechanisms of private engagement into the governance of RE uptake at the regional level; to uncover the implications of private governing for public policy and collective action in the energy sector. I will map out two cases of private governance in Russia’s energy transition: 1) solar power stations in the Ural region as a part of the centralized Russian capacity market and 2) off-the-grid power generation from a mix of solar and wind in remote settlements in the Murmansk region. Since regulation and governance of centralized and off-the-grid power generation in Russia vary, these cases will bring to light the significance of material and institutional conditions for governance dynamics and policy outcomes. The data for this research comes from two sources. Archival and desktop research will exploit existing repositories of publically available data. Fieldwork will consist of interviews and site visits in the Ural and Murmansk regions, and observations at key energy events in Russia. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with regional authorities, politicians, NGOs, and renewable energy stakeholders (incl. developers, operators, investors, equipment manufacturers, research institutions). The analysis of collected materials will create insights into how forms and mechanisms of private engagement in RE uptake can be identified empirically, as well as propose new pathways for sustainable energy transition in Russia. This research will contribute to our knowledge on the potential of private governance to address sustainability challenges and refine theories of bottom-up mechanisms for policy change in non-democratic and non-Western contexts.
Gällande start-/slutdatum01/09/201731/08/2020