In 2022, Russia's electricity consumption is predominantly derived from fossil fuels, with roughly 61% sourced from this energy type. Gas, being the primary source, accounts for nearly 43%, while the use of coal provides almost 18%. This means that out of the total electrical energy Russia consumes, close to two-thirds relies on non-renewable and high-carbon sources. On the positive side, low-carbon electricity generation is responsible for about 39%, with nuclear energy claiming more than half of this share at over 20%. Hydroelectric power somewhat matches nuclear output at a similar contribution. Energy sources like wind, solar, biofuels and geothermal have a negligible presence in the overall electricity mix, making up less than 1% collectively. A notable aspect of Russia's energy policy is its self-sufficiency, as the country neither imports nor exports electricity from other regions.
To increase low-carbon electricity generation, Russia could invest more in the expansion of existing nuclear power plants, drawing inspiration from France, where nuclear energy contributes to over 60% of their total electricity. Also, looking at Eastern European nations like Ukraine, Slovakia and Slovenia which have a high nuclear electricity production ratio (around 58%, 57% and 38% respectively) could provide useful insights. However, diversifying the low-carbon energy landscape should equally be a priority. Enhancing wind energy production, emulating the success of countries like Denmark and Ireland where wind energy makes up over 50% and 33% of their electricity sources respectively, could be another effective strategy. A transition towards a more balanced low-carbon energy mix would not only enhance Russia's energy security but also contribute positively to global climate change mitigation efforts.
Low-carbon electricity generation in Russia has seen dynamism and shifts over the decades. In the late 1980s, there was a promising growth in nuclear energy, with an increase in production seen from 1987 to 1988. However, the early 1990s witnessed a temporary, but significant drop in nuclear electricity production by 18 TWh in 1990 and a further 21.4 TWh in 1994. On a brighter note, nuclear electricity generation rebounded starting in 1996 and continued its positive trajectory into the 2000s. Moreover, from the mid-1990s, there have been fluctuations in hydroelectric power, with both surges and declines in generation. The most recent years have again seen a decline in hydropower by 19 TWh in 2022. While the journey of low-carbon energy generation in Russia has been a mixed bag, the emphasis on increasing nuclear and other low-carbon sources offers hope for a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.