“Is anyone thinking about the birds?” – Constraining and enabling factors of renewable energy industry development in Russia

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
The main objective of this thesis is to provide a detailed analysis of the Russian renewable energy (RE) industry and its development. More specifically, this research aims to identify the main constraining and enabling factors influencing the renewable energy development in Russia. The phenomenon studied is approached through business, political, and societal perspectives. The theoretical framework of this research rests on the idea that the Russian energy policy environment is shaped by various actors. The main actors in the industry are business and political actors that make decisions based on their own interests. Depending on their interests, the actors make decisions considering factors from different structural dimensions: resource-geographic, institutional, financial and ecological. Each of these dimensions entail both enabling and constraining factors. The research design is a qualitative interview-based single-case study, where the unit of analysis is the Russian renewable energy industry. For the purposes of this research, secondary and primary data were analyzed. Russian governmental energy strategies and public political speeches were examined in order to understand the political will to develop renewable energy. Furthermore, for a broader reference point, fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted to ascertain the experience of key specialists of Russian energy industry. The findings of this study are presented through the modified version of the social structurationist model. The research concludes that the Russian renewable energy industry is still in its infancy but it has large potential that has not yet been realized. It has a favorable renewable energy support scheme that is substantially decreasing the country risk to investors. However, the findings show that there are several structural challenges that are difficult to address. The main constraints on Russian RE development are (1) the omnipresence of the conventional energy sector; (2) the strict central governance and top-down management approach; (3) societal expectation of cheap energy and vague perception of energy value; (4) no political discussion about the alarming need to mitigate climate change nor discussion on the cause- effect relationship between conventional energy systems and climate change. Moreover, the findings reveal that international efforts to diversify energy sources are viewed as a greater national risk than climate change. Finally, the most prominent reason for the sluggish RE development in Russia is the lack of political will. Nevertheless, the Russian renewable energy industry is continuously developing and now would be a good time for companies to enter the market in order to ensure a market presence when the renewable energy business really takes off in Russia.
Thesis advisor
Fey, Carl
Russia, renewable energy, energy business, energy policy
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