Belarus plans to build gas generation at the expense of Russia

In addition to the $ 10 billion from Belorussian NPP being constructed due to state credit from VEB, Minsk plans to receive another $ 1 billion from Moscow for a "backup" gas generation at TPPs.
Belarus is going to build 800 MW of gas generation, which should become a reserve for the first unit of the constructed Belarusian NPP (BelAES). Funds can be provided by the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), its partner in construction is Rosatom. According to experts, the costs for projects can reach up to € 1 billion. The risks are long payback periods and the need to export surplus electricity. Speaking against BelAES, Lithuania and Poland do not intend to buy energy from Minsk, and at the Russian energy market it will be difficult for new Belarusian stations to compete with local generation.

Kommersant sources familiar with the situation told Kommersant that today the EDB and Rusatom International Network (RMS, Rosatom's structure for promoting nuclear technologies abroad) must sign a memorandum of cooperation. One of the projects within the framework of such cooperation could be the construction of five gas thermal power plants in Belarus for 800 MW, one of the interlocutors of Kommersant says, it is about financing the project by the EDB.

Deputy Chairman of the Board of EDB Andrei Krainy confirmed to Kommersant that the bank is ready to finance the construction of a TPP in Belarus. According to him, now is a tender, suppliers of components will be Russian enterprises. The final cost of the projects has not been determined, Mr. Krainy added, noting that the Belarusian side "as a rule gives state guarantees for the loan." Natalia Porokhova of ACRA estimated the cost of TPP projects at € 0.8-1 billion.

As explained by Kommersant sources, the new TPPs should be built within the framework of the project for the construction of the first unit of the Belarusian NPP (only two units of 1.2 GW, are built for the state loan of $ 10 billion issued through VEB), the Ministry of Energy of Belarus and Belenergo (energy monopoly countries) are working on this issue. The sites are identified, said one of the interlocutors of Kommersant, it is the Minsk Combined Heat and Power Plant-5 (300 MW), Berezovskaya (250 MW), Lukomskaya (150 MW) and Novopolotskaya TPP (100 MW) Belenergo. According to him, "Minskenergo", "Brestenergo" and "Vitebskenergo" ("Belenergo" enterprises) are conducting a two-stage tender to supply capacity from May to the third quarter, they will be borrowers, and contractors will "offer financing terms". Interlocutors of "Kommersant" did not name any other applicants for the projects, but one of them says that the participation of RMS in construction is being discussed.

In Rosatom, Kommersant was told that the memorandum with the EDB concerns participation in various non-nuclear projects (mini-hydro, thermal generation, etc.), one of the projects may be the construction of a TPP in Belarus. RMS is a contender for the currently qualifying stage of the tender, added to the state corporation.

In the Ministry of Energy of Belarus and Russia, as well as in Belenergo, they did not answer inquiries from Kommersant. Sources of Kommersant in the Russian energy sector note that "the project is a political one".

The key issues of the project remain its payback, which should ensure the repayment of the EDB loan or other investor, as well as the demand for TPP energy. Belenergo currently has over 9 GW of capacity, generating 30.6 billion kWh in 2017, while importing 2.7 billion kWh. BelAES (2.4 GW) and TPPs will increase the capacity in Belarus by one third, which, obviously, will make the country energy-efficient and will require either stopping part of the old generation or exporting surpluses. At the same time, both Lithuania and Poland as opponents of BelAES have already abandoned the import of its output (Lithuania also intends to withdraw from the unified energy system with the Russian Federation and Byelorussia). Considering that the EAPP countries planned to start unifying their energy markets in 2019, there is a risk that the energy surplus from Belarus will go to the European part of the Russian Federation, which is still experiencing a shortage of energy.

Natalia Porokhova is not sure that the development of new Belarusian thermal power plants will go to the wholesale market of the Russian Federation: "The common market is being discussed, but the problems of the difference in the regulation of markets have not been resolved for unification". Belarus can increase the export of electricity to the Russian Federation, the expert notes, but then Minsk will receive only the wholesale price for electricity without any power surcharges (due to them, investments in a new generation are returned in Russia), which means a payback of at least 30 years.