UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Soviet hydroelectricity industry Bater, James Harvey


Hydroelectric power has traditionally been the object of much publicity in the Soviet Union, yet few facts are available regarding the significance of hydro to the electricity industry on a national, and especially on a regional, basis. This thesis seeks to clarify the situation in determining the significance of Soviet hydro potential as well as existing hydro capacity on both national and regional levels. In so doing a system of regions based on power networks has been used and for these regions total installed generating capacities have been calculated so as to provide a basis for quantitative ranking. This study is not concerned simply with the generation of electricity, but with estimating absolute size and type of regional installed capacity and generation, together with the heretofore neglected aspect of consumption. A different approach to evaluating the importance of consumers of electricity is advocated, one in which load factor plays an important role and required KW capacity to meet a particular demand constitutes the prime criterion. The result has been to emphasize the spatial variations in complementary aspects of the Soviet electricity industry. It was found that the concepts most frequently used in assessing Soviet hydro potential have certain limitations, the most important being a neglect of relative distribution. By considering the distribution of remaining prospective dam sites in terms of "economically accessibility," it has been possible to reduce the figure for Soviet hydro potential by almost one-half. While it has been shown that there has been a movement eastward and therefore greater correlation between hydro capacity and hydro potential at present, including hydro capacity currently being installed, almost a third of the "economically accessible" hydro potential is now utilized. For many years there has been concern over meeting system peak load demand economically and in this context hydro capacity in many regions has assumed the function of meeting peak load demand, especially during the winter months. The Central Siberian region has not as yet realized the full benefit of the large scale projects, both hydro and thermal, thus far undertaken and at present is not characterized by low cost electricity. A decreasing average cost can be expected during the next few years. While traditionally viewed as a source region of electricity it has been determined that a possible export of 15-20 percent of total regional generation would have only a limited impact if exported to European Russia. It can be expected that this region will prove to be attractive in the location of electricity intensive industry. It is the concensus here also that large scale hydro construction will continue, but at a slower pace. The demand for electricity in Central Siberia is not yet characterized by any particular industry or sector. In the future aluminum production will constitute an important share of total demand for electricity in this region. The one feature common to the four regions of European Russia is a dependence to a greater or lesser degree on external sources of energy for the generation of electricity. While emphasis has been placed on the utilization of local energy resources, insofar as hydro is concerned, little can be expected as over 80 percent of potential has now been utilized. To date the Urals and Center-Volga have experienced the most serious power shortages, due primarily to the high degree of industrialization and heavy concentration of urban population respectively. The South in contrast does not appear to be in the same situation, the result both of its broader energy resource base and a more diversified demand. The Northwest region while scheduled to be interconnected with the Unified European Power Network, lacks any distinguishing feature in its electricity industry and will remain of peripheral importance. Within what have been referred to as the Peripheral Regions there exists considerable "economically accessible" hydro potential. However, much of this is likely to remain undeveloped for many years to come, especially in the Far East. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, while hydro has traditionally provided the bulk of electricity, in recent years gas-fired thermal stations have made striking inroads. In the Caucasus limited gas reserves will of necessity force the region to look to external sources if this trend is to continue. This is not a problem in Central Asia where there exists extensive gas reserves. Of the remaining regions, Northeast Kazakhstan and Murmansk, only the former is scheduled to assume significance on the national level.

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