Deputy chairman of Russia’s Gazprom argues plans for renewable energy are irrational and should be replaced by more gas-fired power stations

Scrap UK’s wind farm plans, says Gazprom boss

Deputy chairman of Russia’s Gazprom argues plans for renewable energy are irrational and should be replaced by more gas-fired power stations

Tim Webb,, Tuesday 9 February 2010 19.07 GMT

Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom’s deputy chairman. Photograph: FILIP SINGER/EPA

Plans to build thousands of wind farms in the UK are irrational and should be scrapped in favour of more gas plants, according to the deputy chairman of the Russian energyfirm Gazprom.

Alexander Medvedev said the UK and other countries should adopt a more “pragmatic” approach towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions following the impasse at the Copenhagen climate change summit. He argued it would be impossible to meet the UK’s target to generate a third of its electricity from renewables by 2020 without a big contribution from gas. He also claimed it would be three times cheaper to meet emission reduction targets by replacing dirty coal plants with new gas plants rather than wind farms.

“If we do not want to see the authors of the 2020 strategy decapitated in a public square, I do not think they can forget about gas,” he said. “We at Gazprom believe gas should be treated on an equal footing as renewables. I just hope that after the disappointment post-Copenhagen that the decision-makers will take a more pragmatic and rational approach to this.”

Energy companies are sceptical that the UK will be able to meet its ambitious 2020 renewable targets. Gas is increasingly being promoted as a clean fossil fuel and the best way to cut emissions.

Gas-fired power stations, for example, emit approximately half the carbon emissions of equivalent coal-fired ones. Shell last year froze investment in renewables to focus on biofuels and carbon capture and storage. Its new chief executive, Peter Voser, recently said Shell would soon be producing more gas than oil.

But politicians are worried that increasing reliance on gas imports from countries such asRussia is threatening the UK’s security of supply, something Medvedev’s company has dismissed as “Gazpromophobia”. Renewable energy companies are also worried that plans to invest in wind farms could also be scaled down.

Medvedev also revealed today that the company, which supplies about a quarter of Europe’s gas, had concluded negotiations with suppliers like Italy’s ENI and Germany’s Ruhrgas over long-term contracts. Because of the recession, gas demand and prices have slumped, and European firms have been trying to renegotiate their “take or pay” contracts with Gazprom, where they commit to buying a fixed amount of gas over several years.

Medvedev would not reveal the details of the new terms, but indicated that Gazprom had taken into account lower demand for gas, which could result in cheaper gas prices in Europe and the UK.

  • © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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