Government Aims for 4.5% Renewable Energy by 2020

Russia plans to increase the share of electricity it generates from renewable sources to 4.5 percent by 2020 from less than 1 percent now as the nation seeks to lessen its reliance on natural gas and coal.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has signed government guidelines on renewable generation to make the industry more profitable, the Energy Ministry said Tuesday.

The state plans to invest in research and infrastructure for water, heat, solar and wind-based power, as well as attracting private funds to the industry.

"The law should give some impetus for renewables, offering at least a minimum level of support from the state," said Dmitry Skryabin, analyst with VTB Capital. He said RusHydro, Russia's biggest hydropower producer, would benefit most from subsidies to renewable energy projects.

Russia is the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and its generation industry accounts for a quarter of the emissions.

Boosting the share of renewables to 4.5 percent would mean building 22,000 megawatts of capacity, equivalent to a fleet of 22 nuclear reactors, according to the government's 2020 energy strategy.

The renewable energy guidelines, signed by Putin, do not take into account hydropower plants with a capacity of more than 25 megawatts.

Including all of Russia's hydropower capacity, the world's biggest energy exporter generates 2.9 percent of its power from renewable sources, the least of any Group of Eight nation except Britain, according to the International Energy Agency.

The European Union wants renewable energy to account for 20 percent of its output by 2020.