Forum Context and Mission
Researchers know well that the first power plants appeared in Russia at the end of the 19th century. By 1917, Russia was one of the leaders in the global power industry. The first streetcar on electric traction appeared in Moscow back in 1892, and in 1914, two power plants started working in parallel mode for the first time. The development of the State Commission for Electrification of Russia plan (GOELRO), whose centenary is celebrated this year, was based on a solid scientific and industrial foundation. The GOELRO plan itself was a breakthrough project for its time. It created not only one of the world's largest power systems with centralized control and synchronous operation, but also several industries that provided equipment for it.
The Russian power industry remained at the forefront until the 1970s, when the commissioning rate of new capacities began to decline, development slowed down and the first signs of power shortages were observed. Like for the entire Russian economy, the 1990s were very difficult for the Russian power industry. By the end of that decade, there was an urgent need for enormous investments to upgrade the existing equipment and introduce new ones.
In 1998-2008, a reform of the Russian power industry, unique in terms of its complexity and scale, was implemented in order to solve this problem. The reform brought trillions of rubles of new investments into the industry. Large-scale construction of new power plants, power transmission lines, substations, and other power facilities was carried out thanks to these investments. The threat of power shortage has disappeared for decades, and the generated reserves will allow, in accordance with the decisions already taken, to implement a major program of modernizing existing power capacities in 2025-2035. Thus, the reform of the energy sector has not only removed infrastructural constraints for the Russian economy for a quarter of a century, but also created prerequisites for its modernization in the longer term. It is important that the reform itself, based on the introduction of fundamental market economy principles previously considered inapplicable to the power industry, was implemented in Russia among the first in the world.
That means the electric power industry in Russia was among the global leaders at the beginning of both the 20th and the 21st centuries. However, an unprecedented process is unfolding in the world right now. It is commonly known as the global energy transition. Its main driver is decarbonization - the departure from hydrocarbon fuel, the basis of modern Russian electric power industry. How should the Russian electric power industry respond to this challenge? Which of the impending technological revolutions in Russia are meaningful and which are not? How should the Russian specifics and, in particular, Russia's unique potential of oil, gas, and coal resources be taken into account? Should Russia claim an active response to the climate challenge, which in many ways has caused the global energy transition?
The conference participants support different, sometimes mutually exclusive answers to these questions. There will be leading international experts, business leaders, scientists, authors of the energy reform and their opponents among them. The conference welcomes a free and open style of discussion. The participants' own unorthodox thoughts are especially valuable, even if they do not coincide with conventional mainstream views.