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Ambitious wind farm plan for Russia

A scheme to build massive wind farms in Russia's Arctic northwest and sell the resulting electricity to Europe could kick-start the country's renewable energy industry.

The plan, dubbed RUSTEC, would see dozens of onshore wind farms built across the Murmansk region and plugged into a "power bridge" carrying the energy into the European grid via Norway or Finland.

It is the brainchild of the International Finance Corporation (IFO), the branch of the World Bank Group that provides private sector financing for global development.

RUSTEC proposes to bring Russian Wind to the European continent over existing and new inter connections. It will help some EU countries to reach their 2020 renewable energy targets at more economical cost, engender a kick off start for renewables in Russia and open a new, potentially large export market for European know how and technology, IFO’s web site reads.

Supporters of the plan argue that low production costs and unusually high winds in the Russian Far North will produce efficiencies that actually make electricity generated there cheaper than renewable energy produced in Europe.

"I was inspired by DESERTEC — the plan to build solar stations in the Sahara desert in northwest Africa and transmit electricity to Southern Europe. I thought, why solar power from Africa, why not wind power in Russia?" said Patrick Willems, the project manager of the IFC's program to develop renewable energy in Russia, The Moscow Times reports. 

Willems argued that onshore wind farms in places like the Murmansk region can generate more energy than expensive offshore plants in Europe. He added that, as Europe looks to meet its ambitious energy targets, it will pay handsomely for Russian wind power.

The EU is meant to reduce its greenhouse gases by 20 percent and bring renewable sources to 20 percent of its energy generation by 2020, while Germany has a target of going 80 percent renewable by 2050.

The Murmansk region, meant to be the epicenter of project, is currently devoid of wind energy — although Dutch firm Windlife is currently metering the wind at potential sites there.

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