Common sense is struggled systematically

Common sense is struggled systematically

Mikhail Lifshitz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ROTEC, explains why he is against solar power plants, considers the real need for the in-house manufacture of high-capacity gas turbines in Russia, and points out the mistake of Elon Musk.

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03 February 2020

Nikolay Ulyanov

Mikhail Lifshitz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ROTEC, explains why he is against solar power plants, considers the real need for the in-house manufacture of high-capacity gas turbines in Russia, and points out the mistake of Elon Musk.

Russian PD-14 aircraft engines that are expected to power the MC-21 passenger jet will be equipped with honeycomb seals by ROTEC.

These seals are an important element of gas-turbine engines and power turbines that make it possible to improve the machines’ efficiency, extend their service life, and reduce fuel consumption. ROTEC has succeeded in building the in-house import-substituting high-tech production of honeycomb seals. Thus, dependency on supplies from the USA, Great Britain, and China has been eliminated. Mikhail Lifshitz, Chairman of the Board of Directors, was directly involved in the development of this production process. As he says: “I very much like to do the things that nobody else can do.”

However, we started our talk with a discussion of the recent comments made by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019. Her emotional speech at the UN Climate Action Summit last fall caused a furor, and this past January, she took part in the World Economic Forum in Davos, where she had the opportunity to open a panel discussion within the program. On the one hand, global warming is posing significant threats to the global economy even today (see “Business is already paying for our planet’s future,” Expert No. 5, 2020).

On the other, blatantly-populist pandering merely undermines the process of the global community confronting the problem. And Mikhail Lifshitz is categorical in assessing such rhetoric:

– In essence, Greta Thunberg said nothing. She took to the stage and said: you’re not doing anything. That’s true. But when you accuse someone of not doing anything, you have to at least propose what should be done. Not many say what should be done, because there are people who are against it.

There are rather simple, basic things that aren’t being done, meaning that there must be reasons for that. We could talk forever and a day about waste and the recycling of plastic, but there are simple, basic things that we can do – for example, restricting the amount of packaging per product unit. All over the world.

Packaging is plastic. Plastic is a product of the processing of gas into polymers. It’s a giant industry. Our country alone produces about five million tons annually. We should stop this production. We should stop packaging iPhones in a box that weighs more than the iPhone itself. Because the life cycle of this box is close to zero, it will quickly become waste.

It’s just a regulatory decision, but it hasn’t been made so far because the plastic industry isn’t interested in such a decision.

People in Asia – in Nepal, in Cambodia, in India, and in other similar countries – used to pack their food in palm leaves. Once the food was eaten, the leaves would be thrown out and quickly degrade. But then white people came to these regions and brought plastic with them (I’m not a racist, I’m just generalizing the situation). And now, food is wrapped in plastic and people throw it out under their feet as they used to do. They do it the same way they used to with palm leaves. Neither the Cambodian people, nor the Nepalese people, have polluted their countries. That’s been done precisely by those to whom Greta Thunberg addressed her speech.

– Renewable-power generation is being discussed with increasing frequency as a measure in the fight against global warming and CO2 emissions. They say that we should reduce our use of fossil fuels and focus instead on solar- and wind-power generation.

– The task of destroying the packaging industry and replacing plastic packaging with renewable types of packaging is much more important. As for power generation, I am by no means against wind- or solar-power generation. I am against approaching this issue in an unsystematic manner. Somebody has come up with the idea that thermal-power generation is bad and must be replaced.

I’m dead set against discussions about any replacements if these discussions are run by non-professionals. I’m against discussions that are run by people who lack the appropriate education, who have scraped together some tidbits of information and rush to broadcast them.

It is not possible to unify the whole world. Each country has its own specific geography, its own population density, its own natural resources.

For example, Kamchatka peninsula has thermal-water layers close to the surface. Hence, it is reasonable to develop geothermal-power generation in this area.

We know the Rhodes island, with its continuous winds attracting surfers from all over the world.

Well, that’s definitely a great place to install wind-driven generators.

It is the task of government to define requirements, to regulate. The task shouldn’t be defined as “migrate to wind generation” or “migrate to solar generation.” It should be stated as “achieve CO2 concentration in power-plant emissions at the level of ...”. Kazakhstan is rich in coal. President Nazarbayev set the task: achieve a certain level of power-plant emissions as a result of retrofitting. And now, coal-fueled power plants in Kazakhstan provide lower emissions than gas-fueled plants in Germany. At the same time, German policies in the field of renewable-power generation have resulted in the biggest CO2 emissions in Europe. They built two solar- and wind-power generating facilities to cover up to 50 percent of their energy supply, then failed to balance the power system by using modern combined-cycle power units that offered insufficient flexibility. So, they were forced to balance the power system using old coal-fueled power plants that could otherwise have been put out of service a long time ago. This is an example of the difference between what’s said from the podium and what’s actually yielded as the final result. Unprofessionalism is the main threat. Mediocre people are winning in the world.

– And what is your assessment of opportunities for the growth of solar-power generation in Russia? What’s hurting this process, and what’s helping?

– Nothing is hurting it. We’ve built a very effective system of subsidies for market players. Hevel is continuously increasing production output, and now they have a project for the next increase in production.

– You mentioned subsidies, but these are the same subsidies that resulted in the aforesaid imbalances in the German power-generation industry.

– In Germany, they didn’t use proper care and competence in terms of localization requirements, so all of the subsidies were transferred to China. This is again related to the issue of the decisions we make. With uncontrolled subsidies for the implementation of solar-power generation, Germany has buried the photoconverter industry in Europe: all of the European manufacturers have gone bankrupt.

And now, I dare say that Hevel is the only industrial player in Europe manufacturing high-efficiency solar converters.

We have learned this European lesson, and the localization requirements that the government imposes on Russian players are considerably stronger than those in Europe. For example, Schneider Electric has localized its production of inverters in Russia. They have built a manufacturing plant.

– Did I get you right? You don’t support the ubiquitous spread of solar power plants?

– I support taking a rational approach to everything. As an experiment, we have installed a solar-power generating unit at our production site in Khimki. I’m not even taking the insolation level into account. It is simply impossible to use solar modules in the area of the Moscow Ring Road: the dirt and oily soot deposited on the panels cannot be washed off, so after a period of one month, these same panels cannot be used for solar generation.

– And where is the installation of solar-generating units possible? Where is it a must?

– It is reasonable in areas with a low population density. Our first project for a distributed system was in Yaylyu settlement in Altai Region. This area had been served by a diesel generator for a long time. We installed a small 100-kW plant. About three months later, I asked the head of the local administration: “Well, how’s it working out?” He said that they’re saving 40 percent on diesel costs.

The main cost component of a solar power plant is the cost of its land plot. When we build a solar power plant, we “pave over” the soil – soil that could have been used for agricultural purposes. This is bad. Therefore, the first candidates for solar-module installation are large roofs.

– Large roofs mean large cities. It means a lot of oily soot...

– Not necessarily. Railway stations, warehouses located on the outskirts of the city...

– But cities are already provided with power-generating facilities. Should we take them out of service to make room for solar-power generation?

– We have an excessive energy balance. At the same time, we have facilities that must be taken out of service. Some of them can be upgraded, others should simply be decommissioned. Here, we should take a rational and evolutionary approach. It should not be a campaign that insists: “Let’s all switch to solar-power generation everywhere!” We don’t have an industry for the disposal of solar modules yet. No one has assessed CO2 emissions in the process of silicon ingot growth, particularly in the process of single crystal growth based on the Czochralski method. But this is an extremely energy-intensive technology.

– Another problem of renewable-power generation is related to systems for electric energy accumulation and storage. The sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow. Generation and consumption peaks don’t coincide. But these systems are still expensive.

– Who said that these systems are expensive? There’s a certain slyness to it. These systems are expensive because we’re comparing the price of the electric power yielded from them with the price of the electric power yielded from sockets. For whatever reason, we’re not discussing the price of the electric power found in sockets here. So, it may turn out that the electric power in the battery isn’t expensive, but that the electric power in the socket is cheap? And therefore, in some places around the world, energy-accumulation systems are already inexpensive.

– You have a supercapacitor-manufacturing business unit – the company TEEMP, based in Khimki, near Moscow. What is the demand for them?

– It could be better. There’s such a thing as market readiness. The market just isn’t ready yet.

– A couple of years ago I interviewed the head of this company, and at that time, he said that their plant would be manufacturing 200K capacitor cells by 2020 and would have localized the production of electrode tape, whose share in the cost of supercapacitor production runs as high as 40 percent. Have you implemented all of these plans?

– We manufacture two hundred thousand cells, but not the electrode tape. It’s an age-old problem: the in-house production of electrode tape requires a greater production volume of capacitors. Otherwise, it’s economically unfeasible.

– And how many capacitors would have to be produced to make it economically sound?

– About one million. And this is dependent on the dynamics of the market. The widest range of supercapacitor applications is in transport. However, it encompasses not electric-driven transport, but hybrid vehicles.

Today’s electric vehicles are the most pollution-intensive kind of transport of which I’m aware. Because it’s only environment-friendly in the place where it moves, while the overall efficiency of the system is lower.

The bulk of the power-generation industry is combined heat-and-power generation. The electric efficiency of a gas-power generation unit is about 50 percent. At the same time, the auxiliary needs of a power plant require 8 percent of its generated electric power. Losses throughout power grids add another 8 to 30 percent – depending on the specific country. Also, we have to add the losses that occur during charging and electric-current conversion. So, in the best-case scenario, the wheels of an electric vehicle receive 25 percent of their power from burned fuel. To make the electric vehicle move, we need to burn more equivalent fuel than is burned by the vehicle with a combustion engine. And if electric vehicles increase the consumption of equivalent fuel, the beneficiaries are precisely those who produce the fuel.

The hybrid scheme is as follows: there is a generator on board that consumes fuel to produce electric power to rotate the wheels. In this case, we don’t have any grid-related losses, and we have a very important thing – recuperation. Any transport vehicle accelerates and brakes.

The availability of a supercapacitor onboard the hybrid vehicle makes it possible to accumulate virtually all of the energy from braking in the form of electric power: the capacitor quickly receives this energy and then releases it, e.g. to the battery, which provides for energy transfer to the wheels. The battery itself is simply incapable of receiving such a high current. And vice versa: in the case of abrupt acceleration, the supercapacitor quickly releases the energy, which is impossible with the use of a battery alone.

We currently supply our assemblies to the Belkommunmash plant. The plant manufactures electric and hybrid buses. We manufacture large supercapacitors for roof mounting, which provide both recuperation and acceleration.

– And your sales problem is that we don’t manufacture a sufficient number of these machines?

– Not only machines. We created a wonderful system for Italian railway automatics. A railroad switch has an electric charge. This charge must always have a certain power margin. But it only switches on for a few seconds. Crudely speaking, the switch actuator is permanently supplied with a power of 10 kW, but this power works for five seconds only. But the voltage must be permanently applied. And with the capacitor assembly, 1 kW would be enough to actuate the switch.

– Why is the system being implemented in Italy and not in Russia?

– This is because response times in our country are longer and electricity is cheaper.

– The supercapacitor is used in the same vehicle together with the battery. Have you ever considered the idea of developing the production of batteries as well?

– We have a solution. We designed a lithium-ion battery cell in the form-factor of a supercapacitor. We can start its series production in case of sufficient demand. Technologically, we are capable of doing it, but we have no technical capability: one more production line is needed to produce this solution.

Look, this is the battery, and this is the supercapacitor: their hybrid (Mr. Lifshitz is putting them together) is the system to which the future belongs. This is the new generation of our future products.

– Where will it be applied? In automobiles?

– This is the first option. Secondly, I’m aimed at large storage systems for use in the household sector.

– Or in a solar power plant?

– I have to say a very apolitical thing: I strongly dislike solar power plants. Because the unique opportunity given to us by the sun is to avoid electric power plants altogether. We should not pave over the land but use roofs, walls, fences... By using them, we could generate as much energy as we need. And we could store this energy there.

Solar power plants with a large occupied area, fencing, a security service, a substation, etc. is a relic of centralized power generation. It’s a relic caused by the inertial nature of our approach.

– Isn’t there a technical solution? As early as in 2016, Elon Musk announced the launch of solar roof tiles. However, by all appearances, he didn’t succeed with it.

– Musk’s solution was nonsensical and ruthless. Can you imagine how many electrical connectors would have to be implemented in a roof where each tile has a solar module integrated into it? Atmosphere, temperature fluctuations, humidity... The connector would be corroded in a year, and in two years it would be completely oxidated. So, the roof would have to be replaced in the third year of its service.

The specific nature of industrial application is that the system’s operability must be guaranteed throughout the payback period of the bank loan. Because if somebody comes to me as the head of an industrial enterprise and proposes installing his roof-based solar-power generation system, and I want to install it but have no money, then I have to get a bank loan and have it recouped with this solar generation. To do this, I have to be sure that his solar panel will remain operable for twenty-five years on my roof.

Look at this – it’s a solar module (Mr. Lifshitz is showing a plate with a photovoltaic cell on it), and this is a solar module integrated into a standard roof membrane (the solar cell is mounted on a flexible substrate). Their size is approximately 4.5 meters by 1.2 meters. These membranes can be equipped with conventional sealed terminal boxes. Such a terminal box cannot be installed on each of Musk’s roof tiles.

– And where are these modules installed on roofs and walls?

– Not yet in Russia. There are some of them installed in Austria, but without our involvement. There is a production plant of our partners in Austria. Hevel is a manufacturer of modules and separate cells. However, we’re actively working in the field of application of high-efficiency cells. These cells are manufactured by our production facilities and all the composite materials are provided by our partners. It’s a sophisticated patented system. The biggest problem in the application of these materials is related to ultraviolet degradation. This problem can be resolved with the know-how of our partners.

And the main benefit we obtained is low weight. Because if we install conventional modules on the roof, we add a load of approximately 180 kg per square meter just according to construction standards. This is not possible in every instance.

And once again, production can only be launched if the demand is there. It shouldn’t be a campaign, just business. That’s the way we do it.

– What is your view on hydrogen energy?

– I’m very positive on it. We’re participating in a project with SOLIDpower, a manufacturer of systems based on fuel cells. The technology is as follows: natural gas is reformed to obtain a syngas that includes hydrogen, and then this hydrogen is supplied to the fuel cell and used to generate electric power and heat. Currently, about two thousand of these systems are in operation in Europe. On the one hand, it’s a big number: nobody has supplied more systems than we do. On the other, it’s infinitely small, because it’s not a full-scale business.

Today, the electric efficiency of fuel cells is higher than that of conventional electric-power plants. However, the cost of the installed power of fuel cells is considerably higher as well. The cost of the installed power of a gas turbine is about two thousand euros per kW, while for fuel cells it is about seven or eight thousand euros. But since there is a trend towards the lower cost of solar elements and energy-storage devices, it can be expected that cost reductions will take place in this field as well. At the very least, it will be reductions related to production scaling.

Short life for large turbines

– Let’s talk about traditional power generation. Why did you refrain from participating in a tender for government subsidies for the development of a new high-capacity gas turbine?

– I really dislike government subsidies. That’s the first reason. The second reason is that I don’t see any significant demand. To build a plant for gas-turbine manufacturing, I have to be sure that I will sell ten turbines a year for ten years. However, the RF Ministry of Energy estimates demand at 50–60 machines over ten years.

The market for large gas turbines ceased being a national market a long time ago. First it became an international market, then migrated towards duopoly as much as anything else in the competitive economy that is currently crumbling away and transforming into something else. The smartphone market is shared between Apple and Samsung. The airplane market is shared between Boeing and Airbus.

The same duopoly is observed in the turbine market. Following the takeover of Alstom, two key players remain – Siemens and General Electric. There are some minor players, but these two companies capture 80 percent of the market.

And the market for these turbines in our country is also moving towards duopoly with Inter RAO and Gazprom Energoholding as the key players. Other players are minor. I’m not considering RusHydro and Rosatom: they form a big part of the power-generation industry, but it’s a special part. And the market for gas machines is shared between the two aforementioned companies.

My mindset and the size of our business prevent me from participating in a political project. I prefer staying in the market domain.

Fifty percent of my plant’s current output is related to unconventional energy and export products.

“Unconventional” means special-purpose products: turbines for waste-incineration plants, ice breakers, industrial power generation, i.e. equipment for installation at pulp-and-paper mills, iron-and-steel works.

This is what lets you feel healthy: when you’re independent of those who would turn around and quickly start dictating what the prices must be for your products. I’m coming to Mongolia where there are Chinese manufacturers on the one hand and Siemens on the other. And I understand what I can do.

– Some are of the opinion that if the task had been set to make a Russian high-capacity gas turbine against the first Capacity Supply Agreement (CSA) with pre-defined requirements in terms of manufacturing localization, then we’d already have such a turbine in Russia, taking into account that demand would have been guaranteed for manufacturers. Why didn’t we do that from the beginning?

– Let me ask you a question. As we’ve just discussed: there’s solar-power generation, wind-power generation, hydrogen energy, nuclear energy... How do you see the future of the high-capacity gas turbine strategically, over the next fifty years?

– I don’t know...

– Neither do I. In conditions of centralized heat supply, the efficiency of combined heat-and-power plants is high when generating heat and electric power using gas in the steam-power cycle: with healthy grids, total efficiency is about 90 percent.

If it provides this level of efficiency, why should we add a gas turbine? A gas turbine will add a huge CAPEX, add ten percent of turbine cost annually for servicing, add expenses for everything related to reliability and safety, and, finally, add capacity that is not needed.

It may be needed for the state district power plant, a combined heat-and-power plant without heat delivery outwards. But do we really have a lot of power plants like this? When you buy a gas turbine, you buy another one within ten years of its operation. And if it’s a SGT-800 turbine by Siemens, you essentially buy another two turbines within ten years due to its expensive servicing.

The hyper-efficiency of gas turbines is a myth. It can be hyper-effective if there’s a CSA and you’re guaranteed payment for capacity. However, all CSAs end sooner or later, and the bank load must be repaid and the turbine requires servicing. Therefore, my opinion is that the issue of the large gas turbine lies in the political domain.

Last year, Siemens and General Electric each fired 10–15 thousand employees from their high-capacity gas-turbine manufacturing divisions, and now they’re ready to sell these divisions altogether. Monopolies are bad, and politically-motivated campaigns are also bad.

Ural Turbine Works possesses the competences to manufacture steam turbines with capacities of over 300 MW.

Of course, the technological groundwork is important for Russia, but from the market standpoint, I’m not sure that such a project is really needed. It’s unlikely that high-capacity gas turbines will have a long life. However, low-capacity gas turbines will definitely be required. They will be required in places with a high concentration of consumption.

“Multi-structurality” is the key word to define the future of the power-generation industry. Any attempt to unify it will fail. The size of our country allows us to use multi-structurality. We have areas with high insolation, which are not covered by grids. We have developed heat-supply infrastructure that makes possible the use of steam-power units. We have gas that allows operating gas turbines more efficiently than in Europe, because it is our gas and it is cheaper.

– So, multi-structurality and distributed power generation?

– And this is already taking place. In the CSA period, we’ve built facilities with a capacity of about 40 GW. But in reviewing data from customs, we can see that within this period, we’ve imported gas-powered reciprocating units with a total capacity of about 20 GW. In addition, we have imported diesel units. And all of these units were installed at enterprises. This is the distributed power generation we mentioned above.

– However, there is something wrong in the situation where an existing enterprise that’s already connected to power grids installs in-house power-generating units because the electricity from the power system is too expensive.

– Of course, that’s wrong. We have a certain imbalance related to the fact that we have cheap gas. This makes gas-powered reciprocating units very attractive. Their efficiency at local sites can be 50 percent or higher, because they also recover the heat. As a result, they provide cheaper energy than that from power grids.

– Maybe it’s because the EBITDA margin of the Federal Grid Company exceeds 50 percent, which is also wrong?

– Yes, that’s also wrong. Here, we return once again to the issue of monopoly. We are systematically fighting against common sense. The only consolation is that we are not alone.

Waste is incinerated in the wrong places

– One of the key steps in creating a high-capacity gas turbine is organizing the manufacture of turbine blades in Russia. For a turbine to be recognized as a Russian-localized product, its blades must be manufactured in our country. Power Machines, the winner of a subsidy for the development of high-capacity gas turbines, are in a position to start manufacturing these turbines in a few years and are considering a number of options for organizing this production. They’re also considering your participation.

– ROTEC was the first company in our country to disassemble and assemble a gas turbine. It was our company that created gas-turbine servicing independent of manufacturers. Then we initiated the establishment of production in two phases: the first phase – recovery of the blades removed from turbines, the second phase – casting of the blades. In essence, the recovery includes all operations from casting and beyond.

I very much like to do the things that nobody else can do. Today, Sulzer Turbo Services Rus, a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Sulzer concern, works at the production site of Ural Turbine Works.

Blade casting is a pure market story. To make it reasonable, you have to sell about 15 thousand blades annually. As of yet, I can see neither ten turbines per year, nor 15 thousand blades. As soon as I can see it, we’ll start the project.

When we launched the blade recovery, a lot of positive words were said. Gleb Nikitin (at that time, RF First Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry. – Expert) arrived to open the production site. Then I was “pleased” to observe our generating companies removing their blades and sending them to Europe for recovery. We asked them: “Guys, what are you doing?” And they answered: “We must be confident.” What confidence do you need, if we’re offering the most modern production site in Europe to recover blades, and we’re offering it at about 20 percent cheaper than abroad, taking into account the logistics?

If our generating companies signal today that they’re ready to buy blades for replacement here, we can launch production within a year. However, there is no such a signal from them. They continue buying from European and American suppliers. And the government remains silent, though it could compel them (because the major companies are partially owned by the state): dear sirs, when servicing imported gas turbines from 2023 on, you must buy Russian blades. It’s so simple! It’s the same with plastic. However, it’s not being done.

– So, there aren’t any problems preventing the establishment of blade production?

– Of course, it’s not an easy task. I mean, from the technological point of view. That is, there aren’t any scientific problems. And any engineering problems are measured in man-hours. That’s all.

Only the will is required. Either the market, or the will. If the economy is completely open and market-driven, then the market should regulate the issue. If state participation is significant, then will comes to the fore.

– What will be the cost of this production?

– Casting, if implemented in our mode, integrated with the existing blade-recovery facilities will cost about 60 million euros. In case of a “greenfield” project, it will cost about 100 million euros.

If the demand is there, the production will come

– I’d like to ask you about the turbine for waste-incineration plants being constructed by RT-Invest near Moscow and near Kazan. What waste-gas proportion is to be burned in order to rotate the turbine?

– What is a waste-incineration plant? It is a combined heat-and-power plant designed for lowered-caloricity fuel. Its boiler must be resized, because lowered-caloricity fuel, i.e. waste, is required in a greater amount than high-caloricity fuel. The caloricity of this fuel depends on its preparation. It can be taken directly from the waste container, with a certain level of caloricity. If it is sorted, dried, and compacted, its caloricity is different. So, there is no one answer. For example, in Europe, the bulk of this industry works differently than ours. Again, I have to say some unpleasant things. Look at this waste incineration plant in Zurich (Mr. Lifshitz is showing a photo of a small combined heat-and-power plant surrounded by residential and office buildings). It was not built as a waste-incineration plant. It is a combined heat-and-power plant upgraded to incinerate waste.

There are office centers, residential areas in the immediate vicinity. There is no buffer area. Why? Because they do not deliver waste from disposal sites by giant trucks, but transport it by small city lorries from the four nearest districts where this waste is collected. In this case, the share of waste in the plant’s fuel is no more than 20 percent.

If we follow common sense, we don’t build waste-incineration plants – sorry for saying this – but upgrade ineffective combined heat-and-power plants to incinerate waste together with their traditional fuel.

– One of the problems of waste incineration is dioxides. To destroy them, a high temperature is required, which cannot be provided by CHPPs.

– Yes, the exhaust gas must be passed through a high-temperature zone. Its afterburning must be implemented as a separate assembly. And it should be included within the scope of the upgrade. In addition, a filtering system is needed. This is definitely the common-sense approach. What’s different about it, is that we have power-generation companies and the waste-treatment industry. They cooperate poorly with each other. Or they don’t cooperate at all. And those who deal with waste treatment have no power plants. They say: “We’re going to build incineration plants.”

– They’re going to build power plants!

– Yes. And this is in the situation where, first, we have ineffective CHPPs, whose future is unclear because they are heat-supply sources and cannot be closed. Second, since land plots for waste-incineration plants are allocated in remote places, we make logistics more complicated and expensive.

We move waste to the sorting line where it is sorted, compacted, and dried. Then, we transport it to the waste-incineration plant, where the proportion between waste and fuel is approximately as follows: 60 percent – gas, 40 percent – waste.

Each of the plants under construction in Moscow Region is designed for 700K tons of waste. That’s a really large volume. If 20 Moscow CHPPs were upgraded, a small hub for waste sorting were built, and the mixing of waste with fuel were provided, nobody would notice any problems and the waste problem would be solved.

What’s different about it is that it cannot be done quickly, but Moscow has already become a monster sitting on its own waste. It’s the end of the line.

This pilot project – the four plants near Moscow and the plant near Kazan – is a decision that cannot be avoided historically, but further on we would like to see a more rational approach, i.e. the upgrading of combined heat-and-power plants to incinerate waste.

– And is it possible to connect the upgrading of these CHPPs with CSA-2?

– This is a point that cannot be resolved administratively. To do this, it is necessary to introduce power-generation companies into the waste-treatment industry. But who will let them in? However, we need to do this. And I would say that it’s a macro-task that once again falls into the domain of will: to state that power-generation companies are players on the waste-treatment market.

– When you speak about the afterburning of waste tails at CHPPs, in fact you’re destroying your future business. There’s a plan to continue building these waste-incineration plants in the country. What will be your niche with your turbine, which is specially designed for these plants?

– The construction of waste-incineration plants will be continued. It will be continued in locations that have come to the end of the line, like Moscow. But CHPPs being upgraded to incinerate waste will be forced to fix up their turbines, no matter what. Yes, of course, it will be a smaller scope of work as compared with greenfield projects, but as the father of three children, I accept it if it makes our country cleaner. There has to be some kind of healthy balance.

Mikhail Lifshitz – Honored Mechanical Engineer of the Russian Federation and Honorary Power Engineer of Mongolia, holder of 18 patents for inventions. Graduated from Bauman State Technical University, Moscow, and Kaluga Aviation Training College. In 1991 established the Global Edge group of companies. Since 2009 – Director of High-Tech Assets Business Development at Renova Group (principal shareholder – Viktor Vekselberg). Since 2010 – General Director of ROTEC, since 2015 – Chairman of the Board of Directors.


Mikhail Lifshitz is Chairman of the Board of Directors and co-owner of:

ROTEC. The company was established in 2010. It specializes in servicing gas-and-steam turbines, providing engineering services, developing high-tech projects in various industrial sectors. Its product range includes PRANA, a system of predictive analytics for industrial equipment, including power turbines.

Revenue: RUB 2.8 bln (as of 2018).

Shareholders: Renova (49%), Mikhail Lifshitz (31%), Yevgeniy Belov (20%)*.

Ural Turbine Works. The company is focused on designing, manufacturing, and servicing power-generation equipment, including steam turbines with capacities exceeding 300 MW. Half of all cogeneration turbines in Russia are produced by UTW. During the time of UTW’s existence – since 1938 – it has produced over 900 steam turbines.

Revenue: RUB 5 bln (as of 2018).

Shareholders: Renova (49%), Mikhail Lifshitz (20%), Yevgeniy Belov (16%), Legacy Media (15%).

TEEMP (partnership for energy and electric mobility projects). The company specializes in the development and production of solutions in the field of energy storage units using supercapacitors based on in-house patented technology. Productive capacity – 200K supercapacitor cells annually. In the long run – achievement of 1 mln cell-production annually.

TEEMP Production

Revenue: RUB 42 mln (as of 2018).

Co-owners: ROTEC (90%), Vladimir Tumanov (10%).


Revenue: RUB 2.6 mln (as of 2018).

Co-owners: Renova (67.7%), ROTEC (38.3%).


Mikhail Lifshitz is a Member of the Board of Directors in the following companies:

Sulzer AG. A machine-building concern headquartered in Switzerland, specializes in the manufacturing and servicing of pumping equipment, owns Sulzer Turbo Services Rus, a Russian gas-turbine servicing company.

More than 48% of shares in Sulzer are owned by Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova.

SOLIDpower S.p.a., an international company headquartered in Italy. The company develops and manufactures plants for generating power and heat based on high-temperature fuel-cell technology. Their electric efficiency is about 60%.

Hevel. The company is a vertically-integrated manufacturer of solar modules. The scope of activities of the Hevel group of companies includes the turnkey construction of solar power plants and their operation. The company’s production site in Russia manufactures more than 300 MW of solar modules and high-efficiency cells. Mikhail Lifshitz was the initiator of the retrofit of this production site with the implementation of a new technology to produce a new generation of solar modules that combine the advantages of thin-film technology and crystal technology.

*Source of information on revenues and co-owners: SPARK-Interfax.

Source: EXPERT

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