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Green Globe: Belarus plans to nix clean energy incentives in favor of nuclear

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Green Globe: Belarus plans to nix clean energy incentives in favor of nuclear

SNL Image

Electrical power poles on the outskirts of Baranovichi, Belarus. The country has adopted a target to cut its imports 70% of primary energy consumption by 2035, down from 85% in 2017.
Source: Associated Press

Belarus is likely to phase out incentives initially designed to encourage renewable energy development, signaling to the industry that it is turning its attention to nuclear to diversify its energy mix.

The country's energy minister, Viktor Karankevich, told the Belarusian Telegraph Agency that technology advances and a decline in investing in clean energy installations suggests that the government can reduce development incentives.

"I am confident we will be able to strike a balance of interests of producers and consumers. It is a strategic task for us," he said Oct. 9.

According to Climatescope, an initiative from U.K. Aid and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, renewable energy makes up 2% of Belarus' installed power capacity of 9,120 MW, while natural gas dominates the rest of the country's domestic energy generation. Belarus has set a target to obtain 6% of its power from clean energy sources by 2035. In recent years, however, the country has focused on building a 2,400-MW nuclear plant in order to reduce its reliance on imported energy and natural gas.

"In 2015 the Council of Ministers introduced annual capacity addition limits for renewable energy in a sign that the government is more focused on its large commitments in the nuclear sector," according to Climatescope. "Access to finance, red tape and high costs also continue to hold back Belarus's renewable energy market."

Mexico's Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV, the world's largest baking company, became the first firm in Latin America to join the RE100, an international group of major corporations that have committed to using 100% renewable electricity.

In an Oct. 3 news release, Grupo Bimbo said its goal is to power its global operations using 100% renewable energy by 2025. The company will use a variety of methods to directly and indirectly procure clean energy, including power purchase agreements, renewable energy certificates and investing in on-site distributed generation.

"Our commitment to convert our operation to 100% renewable energy is a major step toward our purpose of building a sustainable, highly productive and deeply humane company," Daniel Servitje, Grupo Bimbo's president and CEO, said in a statement. "Having operations in 32 countries, this is a challenge we assume with the clear conviction and responsibility to contribute to a better planet for present and future generations."

Non-utility customers have become a larger source of demand for clean energy developers, with nearly 11,000 MW in corporate procurement deals announced in the U.S. alone since 2013. Industry analysts expect the trend to grow as corporations power data centers and other operations with renewable generation while requiring suppliers to make similar clean-energy commitments.

Spain's government has approved a royal decree to expand the country's renewable energy usage, including a provision to remove a 7% tax on electricity generation from solar.

According to pv magazine, Spain's Minister of the Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera issued the decree on Oct. 5 as part of a plan to support community renewable energy projects and remove barriers that discourage cooperative energy projects and residential solar PV systems.

The new emphasis on renewable energy is also sparking interest from companies. Poland-based investment management and development firm Sun Investment Group CEO Deividas Varabauskas said in an Oct. 5 statement that Spain's decree is "extremely positive" news, making it an attractive new market.

"We are very interested in seeing how their positive shift towards renewable energy goes," he said.

Even before the regulatory changes, solar photovoltaic was expected to lead growth in Spain's energy mix. The government estimated in April 2018 that solar will account for more than 43% of total power installations by 2030.

Elsewhere

* NLC India Ltd. and Coal India Ltd. will partner to invest $1.6 billion to build 3,000 MW of solar in India.

* Canadian Solar Inc. sees the European Union as the next hot solar market amid turmoil and tariffs in the U.S. and China.

* Blackstone Group LP is launching a new business that will invest "hundreds of millions of dollars" in renewable energy assets across Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, according to The Financial Times.

* In South Africa, there is concern that the government may stall renewable energy project tenders for another three years, Recharge reports.

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