Pain without gain? Reviewing the risks and rewards of investing in Russian coal-fired electricity

Gorbacheva, Natalya and Sovacool, Benjamin (2015) Pain without gain? Reviewing the risks and rewards of investing in Russian coal-fired electricity. Applied Energy, 154. pp. 970-986. ISSN 0306-2619

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Coal use—and thus investment—is expected to grow considerably in the Russian Federation over the next few decades. Projections suggest that at least $200 billion of investment will be needed to modernize existing coal-fired power plants by 2030, but the bulk of this financing is to come from the private sector or foreign enterprises. This study asks: what are the possible investment risks and rewards of pursuing this expansion of coal in the Russian power sector? To provide an answer, the study uses a mixed methods approach consisting of elite semi-structured interviews and a review of English and Russian peer-reviewed literature. The study provides a brief overview of the Russian electricity sector before discussing five distinct rewards to investing in coal such as low production costs, competitive returns on investment, rural modernization, expansion of exports, and the acceleration of innovation. These benefits however are offset by five risks: inferior performance to investments in oil and gas, development challenges, air pollution and climate change, social degradation from mining, and a tradeoff with existing policies incentivizing renewable energy and energy efficiency. The study concludes by analyzing what these disparate risks and rewards mean for policymakers and energy analysts.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Benjamin Sovacool
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2016 08:27
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2016 09:21
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