Solar Panels in Khakassia, Russia
Russia could only use renewable energy in 2030, and reduce their overall costs of energy by a fifth Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

Russia could go 100% renewable by 2030, and cut their energy costs by 20%, say researchers. A study found that the cheapest option for Russia and Central Asia in the long term is to go renewable, based on the abundance of resources in the continent.

The researchers, from Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, modelled an energy system for Russia and Central Asia based on solely renewable energy resources, including wind, hydropower, solar, biomass and geothermal energy. They found it is more than achievable, and their energy costs would be around 50% lower than a system which used nuclear technology, or carbon capture and storage.

"We think that this is the first ever 100% renewable energy system modelling for Russia and Central Asia," said Christian Breyer, one of the authors of the study. "It demonstrates that Russia can become one of the most energy-competitive regions in the world."

Most of the countries used in the model are heavily-reliant on fossil fuels and nuclear power, meaning a drastic change would be needed. Thirteen countries formed part of the model, including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Should the featured countries adopt the 100% renewable model, their energy costs will be reduced by 20%.

The results were based upon a number of assumptions. These included that each country provided its own electricity supply, and a 'Super Grid' is built to distribute each different source of renewable energy.

The model also used wind for 60% of all energy production, using smaller, even amounts of solar, biomass and hydrothermal energy. The total capacity of the renewable system would be 550 gigawatts, according to the model – 162 gigawatts more than the current system.

The research was part of the Neo-Carbon Energy research project. The project has also carried out similar investigations in North-East Asia, South-East Asia, South America and Finland.