Tatarstan oil companies invest in wind power

The republic will develop renewable energy based on public and private partnership

The special operation in Ukraine froze wind park construction projects in Tatarstan that were near the finishing line. Instead of Italian Enel, Danish Vestas and Finnish Fortum, Turkish and Chinese companies announced their intentions. However, Tatneft unexpectedly became a flagship of green power, it not only is going to build 12 MW wind parks in the southeast of the republic but also, as Realnoe Vremya found out, sell electrical energy in the wholesale market and deal with import substitution — to make wind turbine blades.

Europeans refused, Chinese and Turks are in

The use of wind power is a very sought-after area of power generation in the world, it grows approximately 30% a year and is widely used in European countries and the US. Tatarstan announced the intention to seriously deal with green power several years ago. The businesses are already on the finishing line, but the special operation in Ukraine put the construction of wind parks in the republic on a hold — foreign investors start to leave.

Because of sanctions, Italian energy company Enel froze almost a ready project for a capacity of 71 MW in Chistopol District. Danish Vestas — a technological partner of the Wind Power Development Fund controlled by Finnish energy concern Fortum — refused further cooperation. The corporation announced the exit from the Russian market as early as May and must seal the deal on the sale of assets in the country until 1 July.

Tatneft unexpectedly voiced a desire to create its own green generation. Starting exploration later than other companies, the company signed an agreement to build wind power stations together with Rekoinvestment representing the Russian-Sino consortium Ural Wind Architects. Consequently, equipment for wind turbines by China’s Harbin Electric Corporation Wind Power will be supplied to Tatarstan.

Turks also expressed their interest, and agreement with Turkey’s VTK Global, which wants to build several wind power stations in the republic, was signed. So there is hope that Turkish and Chinese investors will replace the Europeans. This is what the Tatarstan Ministry of Industry and Trade confirmed for our newspaper.

“The construction of wind power stations on the territory of the republic is considered by a number of companies, including VTK Global. Nowadays this company is exploring sites for wind power plants in one of the districts of the republic,” the Tatarstan Ministry of Industry and Trade told Realnoe Vremya.

Earlier, head of the Tatarstan Investment Development agency Taliya Minullina announced earlier that VTK Global might start the construction of a wind park in 2022.

Seven sites for wind parks

Head of the Department of Renewable Energy Sources of Kazan State Power Engineering University Nail Timerbayev told Realnoe Vremya that seven sites are now explored to place the wind parks. Earlier, locations in Spass, Rybnaya Sloboda, Chistopol and Kamskoye Ustye districts and sites for Tatneft in the southeast of the republic were mentioned. In 2018, Kazan State Power Engineering University won a tender for 20,5 million rubles for exploration in three districts of Tatarstan.

“The projects stalled because European investors were everywhere. Everything is on hold, besides Tatneft’s projects we also did explorations for. Tatneft is calculating, elaborating a financial model, the decision hasn’t yet been made, if they will do this or not. But they haven’t refused the projects — wind measurement goes on, design works go on. Now we have seven sites we are working on at the same time. They all have different completion stages — some have just started, some have design solutions, wind measurement is coming to an end in some,” said Timerbayev.

The interlocutor of the newspaper noted that several Turkish companies, including VTK Global, turned to the university with orders. However, despite the announced intentions, an investment decision on the start of the construction of a specific park has not yet been made.

“There is not infrastructure for the parks at the moment, the design works include measurements and engineering explorations, power output diagrams. Infrastructure construction works haven’t started anywhere yet. An investor, a contractor general an investor will choose does it,” explained the head of the department.

For itself and sale

Amid the Western craziness about renewable energy sources, Tatneft joined the game. As the company claimed, it considers the possibility of building wind parks with a capacity of 12 MW and more. Moreover, not only the oil company’s own needs will be met but electrical energy will also be supplied to the wholesale market — within the programme Renewable Energy Sources Power Delivery Agreement 2.0.

“The location of wind parks will be determined after instrumental measurements of the wind energy potential on the territory of Tatarstan and the evaluation of energy and related infrastructure,” Tatneft told our newspaper.

Neither did Timerbayev name the site limiting to the information that this is a district near Almetyevsk.

Why does an oil company need wind turbines? Two reasons are called — a reduction in the hydrocarbon footprint and an improvement of the environment on the territory of Tatneft GC’s activity.

Most interestingly, the oil company decided to make not only electrical energy but also wind energy equipment, which became deficient after the leave of Western partners. Wind turbine blades are the case. The project is implemented together with Tekoinvest — a Russian-Sino enterprise, a leader of the consortium Ural Wind Architects, which includes more than 10 companies from China and Russia. Most of them have experience in implementing big wind energy projects, including China’s Harbin Electric Corporation Wind Power (HEWP) — the owner of equipment and wind power generation technologies with a capacity of 4,5 MW.

The outlines of the new production aren’t clear yet. For instance, it is not known how seriously the oil company is ready to invest in the project.

“In this work at Tatneft GC, a task force was created, its tasks include the evaluation of the technological readiness of Tatneft Group’s enterprises, the assessment of investments and preparation of the financial model of the production organisation,” Realnoe Vremya was claimed in the company.

But something anyway is known. To reduce logistic expenses, it is planned to set up the production near water — because of the huge dimension of composite components. The potential capacity of components of renewable energy sources is about 300 MW a year. The road map spells out that the production of the first product is scheduled for the first quarter of 2025.

Exporters need this

The energy crisis in Europe related to the restriction on Russian oil and gas supplies a bit decelerated the importance of the transition to renewable energy sources. Nevertheless, the Tatarstan Ministry of Industry and Trade assured our newspaper that the construction of wind parks for Tatarstan is not a trend or an experiment, the republic keeps plans for increasing the share of wind power in the market, new plans are appearing too — import substitution.

“The Republic of Tatarstan is one of the leading industrially developed regions of Russia. A number of big export-oriented companies interested in the reduction of the hydrocarbon footprint and consumption of green power by building renewable energy generation sources are located in the region. In this respect, the republic intends to develop renewable energy together with traditional generation. The geopolitical situation and the exit of the producers of localised wind energy equipment from the Russian market determined the necessity of making Russian wind turbines,” the Tatarstan Ministry of Industry and Trade told Realnoe Vremya.

As an example, a joint project of Tatneft and Rekoinvest is put as an example.

Nail Timerbayev thinks that from the perspective of energy balance the construction of wind parks for Tatarstan isn’t a very topical issue. It can easily become one of these projects, but it is a disadvantage for the investment attractiveness of the territory to place some plants. Also, it is important not to lose the groundwork, especially compared to the other regions that closely deal with this issue. But Tatneft really needs a wind farm.

“The decarbonisation issue is not gone, it does not matter where to export, to Europe, China or somewhere else. The hydrocarbon footprint in the products will be calculated everywhere, both here and there. Exporters need this, while Tatneft is our key exporter, and this reduces the hydrocarbon footprint in their products,” the scientist noted.

Of course, Tatarsta is not Vladivostok, but the conditions allow using wind power. “There are windier regions than Tatarstan, but it is quite a suitable region for wind power generation and economically feasible from a perspective of wind potential,” Timerbayev concluded.

Eleonora Rylova

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