Russia ranks second in the world in undeveloped hydropower resources, with economic potential reaching 852 TWh, and only 20 per cent of it currently utilised. With 80 per cent of population and industry located in the central and southern regions of European Russia, most unexploited potential hydropower sites are located far from major load centres. Hydropower accounts for 99 per cent of renewable energy share, with other renewables undeveloped.
The Draft Energy Strategy for the period until 2035 expects further increases in power demand, particularly in regions undergoing high economic development such as the Russian Far East, Siberia, Russian North and the Caspian, creating new opportunities for hydropower development in these areas.
Overall, Russian electricity demand is expected to increase by nearly 2 per cent per year. The Strategy for Development of Renewable Energy (published in 2009) considers the accelerated development of renewable energy sources as an important factor of the economic modernisation of the country. Currently, Russia recognises only hydropower up to 25 MW as a renewable energy source, and according to the Draft Energy Strategy its production will increase for up to 30 per cent by 2035.
The federal hydropower generation company, RusHydro, owns the majority part of the hydropower plants in Russia, with 38.9 GW of installed capacity (81 per cent of the country’s total).
On 23 December 2016, PJSC RusHydro successfully commissioned the 140 MW Zelenchukskaya hydropower plant on the Kuban River in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic in the North Caucasus region, which combines run-of-river hydropower and pumped storage. In its construction the project utilised new technical solutions; it has two reversible units with capacity in pumping mode up to 160 MW. Average annual output from the facility will be 162 GWh.
On 29 December 2016, the 30.6 MW Zaragizhskaya hydropower plant was launched in the Kabardino-Balkaria region. It is the third plant on the Cherek River, and will generate 114 million kWh of electricity. The total capacity of the cascade is 156 MW, and it will provide 40 per cent of regional electricity needs.
RusHydro also plans to construct a small-scale hydropower plant (10 MW) in the village of Upper Balkaria.
By the end of 2019 RusHydro plans to complete the construction of further projects: Zaramagskaya HPP-1 (342 MW) in the North Ossetia-Alania Republic; the third hydro-unit of Ust-Srednekanskaya HPP (142.5 MW) in the Magadan region; and Nizhne-Bureyskaya HPP (320 MW) in the Amur region.
Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), the International Investment Bank (IIB) and Nord Hydro – Belyi Porog have signed a trilateral cooperation agreement to construct two small hydropower plants, Beloporozhskaya HPP 1 and Beloporozhskaya HPP 2, with a total capacity of 50 MW, in the Republic of Karelia near to the Finnish border.
This country profile is featured in the 2017 Hydropower Status Report. You can download the full report here.
This profile was last updated in May 2017.