China Three Gorges, En+ eye projects in Russia

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Hydropower expansion on cards as many rivers, streams and lakes remain largely untapped

Russia’s En+ Group is pushing for more cooperation with China Three Gorges Corp to promote hydropower projects in Russia.

En+ Group is a mining, metals and energy conglomerate and major shareholder in aluminum giant United Company Rusal. China Three Gorges Corp is the country’s largest hydropower developer.

Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire owner of En+ and president of Rusal, highlighted an ongoing hydropower project in Siberia, which has huge potential with total project capacity of up to 10 gigawatts.

Deripaska said there is still great potential for expansion of hydropower in Russia as many of the country’s rivers, streams and lakes remain largely untapped.

Cooperation between the two companies is likely to be carried out through a Hong Kong-registered joint venture called YES Energo Ltd, set up by En+’s subsidiary EuroSibEnergo Plc and China Yangtze Power, a subsidiary of China Three Gorges.

Earlier reports said China Yangtze, the nation’s biggest hydropower dam operator, planned to buy a stake in EuroSibEnergo.

About 20 percent of Russia’s water resources are considered hydropower-worthy. Most of Russia’s electricity is generated by thermal plants, and about 16 percent by nuclear power stations.

But experts say that is about to change because many, including Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest persons, are investing billions of dollars in new hydroelectric dams in remotest Siberia, to feed the growing local demand for electricity and to export the energy to China.

The billionaire’s other company, Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, is now using hydro-electric power to feed the demand of its aluminum plants in Russia, with only 6 percent powered by coal-fired stations.

Its core aluminum facilities are located in the Siberian area. “We are going to eliminate that 6 percent and use hydropower for all of our aluminum factories,” he said.

The Russian hydropower company RusHydro and China Three Gorges signed a deal in May to cooperate on a 320-megawatt hydroelectric power project on the Bureya River in Russia’s Far East.

The two companies will also explore building other hydropower plants.

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