Russia is the world’s biggest country in terms of territory – in citizens it ranks only 9th. It is home to the world’s largest reserve of fresh water (lake Baikal), longest river and 25% of the world’s forests. It has more neighbors than any other country and in its capital Moscow live more billionaires than in any other city in the world: 74. When it comes to energy, Russia can claim even more records. A few facts stand out:
- ONE OF A KIND: Wikipedia sums it up nicely. Russia has the largest known natural gas reserves of any state on earth, along with the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. This is 32% of world proven natural gas reserves, 12% of the proven oil reserves, 10% of the explored coal reserves and 8% of proven uranium reserves. Russia is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of natural gas. The main importers of Russia’s gas are the European Union and the former Soviet-Union states.
- HYDROPOWER: Hydropower accounts for about 21% of Russia’s total electric power production. Other renewable energy sources are hardly explored even though Russia has a lot of potential for solar, wind and geothermal energy.
- WHO NEEDS WHO? Russia needs Europe more than Europe needs Russia, is what analysts in Western Europe tend to say. The logic is that oil and gas accounts for roughly 70% of Russia’s total exports and more than half of the income of the Russian government. Europe is responsible for 80% of the imports of oil and gas. This implies that the Russian government relies on Europe to pay 40% of its bills. The story can probably be told differently as well.
- RUSSIAN ENERGY-BILLIONAIRES: Russian billionaires in energy by Forbes in 2013 included No 41 Mikhail Fridman ($16.5 B), No 47 Leonid Mikhelson ($15.4 B), 52 Viktor Vekselberg ($15.1 B), 55 Vagit Alekperov ($14.8 B), 56 Andrey Melnichenko ($14.4 B) and 62 Gennady Timchenko ($14.1 B). The list goes on and on.
Top three challenges
- A NEW ECONOMY: Russia is almost entirely dependent on energy revenues to fund its public policy and fuel its economy. Assuming European countries succeed in lowering their fossil fuel demand, Russia needs to recreate its economic foundation. Easier said than done.
- PREVENTING ANOTHER CHERNOBYL: Nuclear energy is widely used in Russia, and there are currently 31 operating nuclear reactors. However, several of these, such as the one at the Kola NPP, are past their lifespan and have a high probability of nuclear accidents. Instead of being decommissioned, they are still being used. The disposal of nuclear waste is also an issue, due to a lack of funding.
- RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: Russia’s air and rivers are among the most polluted worldwide. Russia suffers from a large degree of deforestation. Russian government regimes have for long exploited all natural resources. To stop this process it would be wise to reinstall institutions that exited in Soviet times that aim to protect natural resources.
- Interview with environmental activist Evgenia Chirikova on Russia’s environmental problems and solutions – Putinomics’ the biggest threat to Russia’s environmental movement
- Russia is planning to build the first floating nuclear power plant – really? yes, really..
- Russia’s greener future – is that imaginable? – yes, but a bit futuristic
- Scenarios for the Russian Federation
- Good news: a growing group of Muscovites is actively trying to improve Moscow’s recycling practices – a New York Times report