The forecast has been prepared in line with the General Principles of Socioeconomic Indicators Forecasting.
In 2017-2021, electricity consumption in Russia should climb on average by +0.1% per year. Improving living standards provided half of new electricity demand between 2010 and 2015 and are likely to remain key for electricity consumption growth in the medium term, although stagnating household income is expected to reduce this factor’s impact. Last year’s record-high growth in electricity consumption (up 1.8%) was caused by the climatic factor.
RESOP (renewable sources of power) is the energy of flowing water, blowing wind, solar light, geothermal energy of the Earth, the energy of sea tides. RESOP usually includes alternative energy sources only (no traditional large hydro plants).
Nuclear power will dominate the sector in terms of new equipment commissioning, as the next 7-10 years will see more than 8 GW of new nuclear generating capacities put into operation. The current renewable power source (RESOP) sector support is the only program in the energy field aimed at incentivizing investor appeal, and investors are likely to show more interest. Be as it may, RESOP will hardly contribute more than 0.5% to Russian electricity production by 2021.
CSA (capacity supply agreement) is an obligation by an investor to build a new plant or to modernize an old one in exchange for an increased tariff for the following 10 years in order to payback the costs. The first CSAs were signed during RAO “UES of Russia” privatization. Subsequently, the scheme was spread onto the nuclear power, hydropower, and RESOP sectors.
By 2017, the thermal sector saw completion of up to 90% of CSA investments. New investments to the sector are related to regional programs (Far East, Kaliningrad, the Crimea), increased equipment decommissioning and modernization. A record-high CHPP number are facing the problem of extending equipment life: the peak of power plant commissioning in the Soviet Union took place in the 1970s, when thermal power capacities added 40 GW, with another 29 GW added in the 1980s. After 2020, revenues the generating companies get from payments on CSA will start plummeting, and a new program aimed at supporting thermal generation modernization may be introduced in replacement of CSAs.
The heat market will be a priority for the policy aimed at stimulating investments in the energy sector, but this policy will be constrained by strong social implications related to heating, which accounts for up to 50% of household utility bills.
The policy aimed at containment of electricity prices has been in place for the past five years. It was caused by a dramatic increase in energy prices after the RAO “UES of Russia” reform, later on, in 2014, fueled by the economic recession. In 2012-2016, inflation ran into 51%, while electricity prices for households and other consumer groups climbed 40% and 34% respectively. Over the period, the industry faced two price freezes.
See the ACRA March 28, 2017 Russian economy forecast tiled “Russian Economy: Recession Knocked Out. What Next?”
The year 2015 saw a new price containment factor emerge after a transition to active inflation targeting took place (although the inflation targeting policy had previously been officially announced, it was rather passively conducted until then). In the medium term, maintaining low inflation will remain a priority. With active inflation targeting in place, the policy with regard to regulated prices, which stand for up to a third of consumer price increases, will most likely be restrictive. This will affect directly regulated rates in the first place, i.e. those on gas and heat, as well as electricity transmission tariffs.
However, keeping electricity prices within the inflation rate (even in case of tariff regulation tightening) will hardly be possible in 2017-2020, as prices for industrial consumers will climb over the period by an average of 6.4%, pushed up among thither things by:
– Climbing fuel prices (+1.1 pps);
– An outstripping price growth on the wholesale electricity market (+0.3 pps), where demand will start outperforming supply in 2017-2018;
– Commissioning of new power plants, which would be allowed special tariffs to ensure their payback (+3.5 pps); this will primarily concern NPPs (+2.6 pps);
– Transmission tariff indexation (+1.5 pps).
CSA tariffs are on average sixfold those of other plants, with CSA payments forming ¾ of EBITDA in generation.
The tariff calculation is pegged to the previous year’s yield of long-term government bonds.
In 2016, EBITDA margin in the Russian electricity generation sector climbed to 24% (from 11-15% in 2008-2012) while debt burden in terms of the “debt/EBITDA” ratio declined from x2.0 in 2014 to x1.4 in 2016. High profitability and declining debt may remain the trends of 2017-2020, fueled by finalization of CSA commitments, an end to the period of growing surplus on the electricity market, and persistently high debt market interest rates, which SCA tariffs are pegged to.
Between 2017 and 2021, inflation in Russia is projected to reach 4.0-4.5%. However, the tight monetary policy and the inertia of inflationary expectations will likely keep long debt market rates and CSA yields above the 2012-2013 level, when inflation equaled 6.5%. In 2015-2016, additional revenues of generating companies from increased CSA charges, resulting in turn from rising interest rates, amounted to RUB 29 bln, while in the next five years (2017-2021) they are expected to reach RUB 99 bln.
Project paybacks with regard to CSA tariffs has been calculated for 15 years, although a plant is entitled to the tariff for only 10 years. To compensate for the revenues for the remaining five years, the plant is entitled to an increased tariff over the last four years.
After 2017, the yield for calculating CSA tariffs should average 14%. This is lower compared to 2016-2017 numbers, but by 2020, the total revenues from CSA payments is not expected to contract in thermal generation, as for the last four years of the ten-year period the CSA subject is allowed to charge a higher tariff. In 2020-2025, most of CSA payments will be completed, and generation sector profitability may return to 12-15%.
New nuclear power plants are also entitled to special CSA tariffs. Therefore, commissioning of new power units will be decisive for the final price growth in 2017-2021. By 2020-2021, the volume of CSA payments in nuclear generation may reach RUB 300 bln a year, which is above of what generating companies earn now under CSAs.
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