Tatarstan fighting against limitation of energy capacities

Rustam Minnikhanov argued with the deputy minister of Energy of Russia about whether new capacities are needed in Tatarstan

Tatarstan fighting against limitation of energy capacities
Photo: Максим Платонов

“We live in a cold country, we must have reserves. Now we are betting on downflows, but what if they are interrupted? What should we do?" Rustam Minnikhanov did not agree with the desire of the Ministry of Energy of Russia to limit the expansion of energy capacities in Tatarstan. The republic wants to cover the deficit of 5 billion kWh (or 15%) by modernising energy companies by 737 MW, but even the casually mentioned 1 GW wind farm project caused an “acute toothache” for the Moscow guest, Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Snikkars. “There is no shortage — we can always take it from the outside," he objected. But in line with federal innovations in the republic, the consolidation of local grid operators has been completed — the creation of a “system-forming organisation” is on the threshold, most likely on the basis of Grid Company.

Breaking through armor of Ministry of Energy

Fundamental differences in the views of the authorities of Tatarstan and the Ministry of Energy of Russia on the further development of the energy complex spilled out yesterday during a plenary meeting of the government of the Republic of Tatarstan dedicated to the implementation of the state programme “Energy Resource Efficiency in the Republic of Tatarstan” in 2023-2024. It turned out that it was not just difficult to introduce new generating capacities in Tatarstan without synchronisation with the federal planning programme, but also virtually impossible. The commissioning of additional megawatts in one industrial hub will result in “circumcision” in another — excess capacity will simply be mothballed, Pavel Snikkars, a Moscow guest, Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia, once warned, questioning the expediency of private investments. Is it worth trying to punch well above one's weight if there is a hard ceiling for generation growth? However, the Tatarstan energy lobby seems to be trying to break through this “invisible armor” that holds back the limits of their growth anyway.

Deputy Prime Minister of Industry and Trade of the Republic of Tatarstan Oleg Korobchenko tried to argue the “idée fixe” with the growing dynamics of the growth of electricity consumption in Tatarstan. According to him, last year the historical maximum consumption of electric power was exceeded three times and for the first time it reached 5.1 GW.

An energy “depression” of 5 billion kWh

However, annual electricity consumption increased by 1.1% to 33 billion kWh, of which own generation covers 28 billion kWh. The remaining 5 billion kWh comes from outside due to the flow from other regions of the Russian Federation. Relatively speaking, energy capacities lag behind industrial growth and, therefore, lose, relatively speaking, a significant part of their income. Moreover, this negative “delta” of 15% remains in the energy balance for at least three years, and it is not possible to overcome it in any way. Oleg Korobchenko said that this time there was such a chance. According to him, it is planned to modernise the equipment of all energy companies for a total capacity of 737 MW, as well as the commissioning of capacities at Kazanorgsintez for 311 MW and the incineration plant for 50 MW. Together, they will help to close the “eternal depression”.

The deputy prime minister forecasts the occurrence of a shortage of thermal capacity. First of all, in Kazan. “In a number of regions of the republic, the development of a shortage of thermal and electrical capacities is forecasted," he noted. “So, in connection with the active development of Kazan, the construction of a fourth energy source to cover thermal loads is being considered. Together with the Institute of Spatial Planning and the City Hall, the work is underway on a technical solution. We believe that the issue of construction should be considered within the framework of the heat supply schemes being developed," he said.

Another shortage zone is growing in the Chistopolsky district. According to Oleg Korobchenko, a shortage of electric power is forecasted here. “Given the good wind potential of the territory, it is advisable to develop renewable energy here," he said.

“There is no shortage”

The presented map of “blind” places — without heat and electricity — irritated Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia Pavel Snikarrs. “There is no shortage — we can always take it from the outside," he stopped the speaker. According to him, the lack of own energy is compensated by overflows from the Unified Energy System of the Russian Federation, so there should be no cause for concern. He also reacted to the 1 GW wind farm project in Chistopol. According to him, if they do start installing it, then they will have to freeze the capacities operating in the mode of combined heat and energy generation (that is, the cost is lower here). In other words, he spoke out against the uncontrolled expansion of generating capacities.

As a balm to the soul, the Ministry of Energy of Russia announced the completion of the consolidation of territorial network organisations. From 2023 to 2025, a phased tightening of the criteria for classifying local grid operators is underway, which will lead to a reduction in their number. “Today there are 18 local grid operators in the republic. By 2025, there may be only 11 of them left. A backbone organisation will be created in the region on the basis of the largest local grid operator," Oleg Korobchenko said. The relevant draft resolution has been developed by the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation. The backbone organisation will be approved by the decision of the highest official of the republic.

Pavel Nikolaevich does not want us to develop new capacities

A painful topic is the operation of foreign turbines, whose maintenance has been discontinued. “Many power plants in the country have turbines from foreign manufacturers installed. For example, General Electric equipment operates at all three Kazan thermal power plants," Korobchenko did not hide. According to him, for this reason, the modernisation project of the Zainskaya GRES, the construction of an incinerator plant, was disrupted. However, Kazan CHP TGK-16 and Tatenergo were able to achieve results in servicing General Electric turbines using domestic equipment, he said.

In his closing remarks, Rustam Minnikhanov made it clear that he did not agree with the desire of the Ministry of Energy of Russia to limit the expansion of generating capacities. “Pavel Nikolaevich does not really want us to develop new capacities. [Now] we are having a discussion," Rustam Minnikhanov did not hide it. According to him, the discrepancies are related to the projected figures on who will “swallow” how much energy. The head of Tatarstan believes that it is necessary to take it with a reserve, since one capacity is often claimed, but in fact, the need turns out to be much greater. “The GRP of the republic is growing, and the energy intensity has decreased by 2% over the year. In total, at the beginning of 2007, energy costs were reduced by 22.7%, but further potential depends on access to advanced technologies," said Minnikhanov. But under the conditions of sanctions, access to them is difficult. “There are no planes, no power machines anymore. But they used to buy everything," he complained.

“We live in a cold country, we must have reserves. Now we are betting on downflows, but what if they are interrupted? What should we do then?" he persisted. “Yesterday's situation showed which areas are the most affected and tangible? Of course, energy, all industries depend on them. You don't have to do anything... And our enemy feels it," he stressed. And he turned to the heads of enterprises to take care of security themselves. “Everything that we said that there would be problems has happened. Due to that yesterday was Eid and the Orthodox fast, the Almighty gave us a chance... Wake up, guys, no one will protect us except yourself. There should be a reserve everywhere, there should be brigades everywhere. You don't have to wait for missile defense to work, it solves other problems. We have to solve it on our own, every enterprise, every municipality, every city.”

Luiza Ignatyeva