Expert: Arctic regions to switch to alternative energy sources in the future
The Arctic could and should be provided with alternative energy sources, said Roman Samsonov, Professor of the Gas Technologies and Underground Gas Storage Department at the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas, during the Arctic: Society, Science and Law international forum.
"This process is currently underway," Samsonov said on the sidelines of the forum. "We have many examples of introducing wind, water and solar energy generation systems. Not all of them are successful due to the peculiarities of the Arctic environment; we need to resolve some technical issues first. This field requires better management and development; so far it is one of the biggest problems."
Today, there is already a trend for switching from fuel oil to liquefied natural gas (LNG), which can also be considered an alternative energy source, the expert said. In addition, Samsonov believes LNG to be one of the most environmentally safe fuels, since it cannot spill and its air emissions are lower than those of fuel oil.
"This will be our alternative fuel for the next 10 to 15 years," Samsonov said. He added that the issue of supplying the Russian Arctic with energy could be solved through introducing hybrid systems that combine the newest power generation technologies and fuel systems. Big companies, such as Total and Gazprom Neft, have already switched to them.
"They take, say, liquefied methane, as the primary fuel source, and add the power generated with the help of a wind turbine or a solar battery," he said. In the Arctic environment, it is not always possible to generate solar or wind power, so in such a situation, liquefied methane can be used.
Samsonov also noted that some countries do not encourage the introduction of hybrid systems — namely, Russia and the US. "This issue is being actively discussed by the State Duma Committee on Energy, so we hope for some progress."
The expert believes gas hydrates to be the fuel of the future; China, Japan and Canada have already switched to them. "The Arctic has huge gas hydrate resources," Samsonov said. "They occur at shallow depths, and this is a next generation fuel."