Belarus should stop being gas-dependent from Russia. Comments by Andrei Matsiavin, EnterInvest.


Almost 96% of the heat power in Belarus is being produced from Russian natural gas, what makes our country highly dependent on Russia and causes some geopolitical concerns. These questions were raised by EnterInvest investment-consulting company representative Andrei Matsiavin during the panel discussion “Investment in energy efficiency: reality, opportunities, potential”,  held on November 19th as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The discussion was initiated by MTBank in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC).

In the meantime, according to the speaker, renewable energy is not just a western trend but a real industry, global investment in which amounted to some 260 bn USD in 2011 only. As Telegraf’s correspondent reports, the speaker says that nevertheless this industry is not entering Belarusian market yet.

Andrei Matsiavin points out that certain programs have been developed in Belarus, some plans have been declared but nothing is going on. In his opinion, the process of closing the deal and the implementation of investment projects are slow in Belarus; our legislation is not designed for a long-term perspective, the infrastructure in the alternative technologies industry is underdeveloped, and so on.

Expert: only high prices will make Belarusians save

In his turn Andrei Zhishkevich,  the chairman of board of MTBank, explains that cheap Russian gas allows Belarusian government to temporarily disregard the issue of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency. “However, energy efficiency could already help some enterprises to save money,” he comments.

Having said that, Andrei Zhishkevich emphasizes that banks do not have liabilities to give credits for renewable energy projects with long payback period. Nevertheless, banks “would be delighted to consider” financing the projects on energy efficiency when the payback period is less than 5 years. 

Speaking of a possible interest of the government and citizens in attracting energy efficient technologies in residential properties (at the moment heating of some houses reaches up to as much as 300 kW/h, at the rate of 40 kW/h), he explains that as long as residents pay only 25% of consumed resources (as a result of cross-subsidization) none of them will do heat insulation of housing sector.

“The sooner we get rid of Russian cheap resources, the faster and more new opportunities will we have,” declared the chairman of board of MTBank.

Expert: energy efficiency projects are financed selectively

Vasiliy Tarasevich, a manager of the Program on financing sustainable energy in Belarus by EBRD, points out that in terms of energy efficiency and renewable resources Belarus is doing not bad in comparison with other countries in the region. Still, there is a potential for growth.

He also notices that budgetary funding of renewable energy is decreasing all the time (thus, in 2012 it was accounted for 12,4% of all resources against 18,7% in 2011), whereas this industry is being financed mostly from the organizations’ own resources, credits and so on.

Moreover, as Vasiliy Tarasevich points out, financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Belarus is on a sample, not a regular basis. Some of the reasons are long payback period of the energy efficiency projects as well as not effective enough planning.

Expert: Belarus will be readjusting anyways

According to the Glimstedt firm representative Daria Zhuk the law on renewable energy in Belarus is good enough since it is nearly copied from an identical law in Germany. “The law has provision for discounts and preferences for investors, it secures the connection of newly launched power plants to the electric grids and purchase of energy at a feed-in tariff,” says Daria.

However, Daria points out, since this law was passed only in 2011 this industry is barely taken up by any players, there in so competition on this market. “One can be the first in this industry. This is a market which one can form,” she explains.

“We will be readjusting anyways (given refusal from Russian gas and rising prices on energy – Telegraf). Why not to start already today?” she adds.