IEA (2020), Belarus energy profile, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/belarus-energy-profile
Overall control and management of the electricity and heat sector falls under the Ministry of Energy, with BelEnergo owning and operating generation, transmission, distribution and retail sales of electricity and heat. Transmission system operator functions are distributed among BelEnergo and its subsidiaries: the central dispatch unit and six regional power system companies, or oblenergos that serve as distribution system operators. BelEnergo produces about 50% of the heat supply while the remainder is provided by local district heating companies owned by municipalities.
The Sectoral Programme of Electricity System Development for 2016-2020 involves restructuring the electricity sector and improving the electricity system’s management and organisational structure by dividing the production cycle by activity (generation, transmission, distribution and sales) and creating relevant entities. It also aims to develop and adopt the legal acts necessary for regulation while addressing: 1) relations between the government and electricity sector organisations; 2) the degree of state involvement in managing and regulating electricity and thermal energy tariffs; and 3) the basic principles of wholesale and retail energy market formation and functioning. The development of these provisions is reflected in the Concept for Developing Power Generation Facilities and Power Grids to 2030.
Belneftekhim is the key body responsible for the country’s oil sector. It reports directly to the Council of Ministers and includes over 80 companies and organisations responsible for the full spectrum of activities across the oil value chain, including oil exploration and production, transportation, refining and marketing. It also produces a wide range of chemical and petrochemical products.
The natural gas sector essentially consists of two companies: Gazprom-TransGaz, which operates high-pressure transportation, transit and storage systems, and is responsible for new construction and maintenance; and BelTopGaz, which handles gas distribution and retail sales. Gazprom-TransGaz sells gas to BelTopGaz, which through its seven subsidiaries (regional distribution companies) resells the gas to end users in all sectors.
Gazprom-TransGaz is fully owned by Gazprom, and all matters related to natural gas transit, including infrastructure, system operations, tariff structure and technical services, are carried out under a bilateral agreement with Gazprom. BelTopGaz is fully state-owned.
The peat market is controlled by BelTopGaz, which controls production, distribution and retail marketing of peat and related products. BelTopgaz has seven subsidiaries (regional distribution companies) that supply peat to end users in all sectors.
Under the Charter, the Ministry of Energy organises and co-ordinates the production of nuclear energy and the construction and operation of NPPs in Belarus.
In accordance with Presidential Decree No. 583 of December 2013, the Republican Unitary Enterprise Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant performs the functions of holder and operating organisation for commissioning, operations, performance control, lifetime extension and decommissioning of the Belarusian NPP.
The Law on Renewable Energy Sources established the legislative basis for FITs for renewables. Tariffs for electricity produced from RESs are based on the electricity tariff for industry (installed capacity up to 750 kilovolt-amperes [kVA]), multiplied by a special coefficient that is based on the type of renewable energy and lifespan of the installation (less than ten years versus more than ten). Renewable energy producers also benefit from a guaranteed connection to the electricity grid. Even though the underlying legislation came into force in 2011, Belarus’s production of renewable energy remained insignificant until 2014 when generation plants reached their planned capacity. In 2015, FITs for renewables were further differentiated by type of energy, capacity and installation lifespan (Resolution No. 45).
The procedure for setting, modernising and reconstructing existing units as well as determining and allocating quotas is determined by the Presidential Decree on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources (2019) and the Resolution of the Council of Ministers on Setting and Allocating Quotas for the Construction of Renewable Energy Facilities (2015). In consequence, a national interagency commission was established to determine and allocate quotas for renewable energy units. These quotas do not apply to units used by organisations and individuals to cover their own energy needs, or to investment contracts concluded and registered before the presidential decree came into force. In 2019 it was decreed that only new equipment may be used in renewable energy systems; that renewable energy generation of over 1 MW must be involved in the daily regulating schedule to cover the energy system’s required electrical load; and that renewable energy system owners have the right to transfer electrical energy using the networks of energy-supply organisations.
The interagency commission established the 2020-22 quota for total renewables-based generation at 136.8 MW: 12 MW from biogas, 19.8 MW from wind, 62 MW from small hydro, 3 MW from biomass, and 40 MW from geothermal. It also approved a list of organisations and individual entrepreneurs entitled to establish renewable energy generation units within the allocated quotas.
Although the long-term value of energy efficiency has been recognised, the immediate financial investment is a major barrier. The cost of the National Energy Saving Programme 2016-2020 was estimated at USD 5 billion, of which one-fifth was to be financed from the state budget. The remainder was envisaged to come from private financing, soft loans from international financial institutions, loans from the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus, and other financial market instruments.
Upon agreement with the Ministry of Economy, the Department for Energy Efficiency annually develops and approves the main energy saving measures to be financed by the state budget. The criteria for selecting energy-efficiency projects for state budget support were agreed by the Ministry of Economy and approved by the 14 October 2010 Decree No. 17 of the Department of Energy Efficiency. The 12 criteria take the main energy saving priorities into account.
There is no specific government fund dedicated to providing financial incentives to energy efficiency programmes, although the Energy Efficiency Department monitors the level of investment in energy efficiency.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has a credit line of USD 50 million in Belarus for investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the private and public sectors. To take advantage of this credit line through the Belarus Sustainable Energy Finance Facility, energy efficiency projects are selected according to financial viability and applicability within the technology criteria, and are given soft loans from the EBRD through local participating banks. However, most of the loans administered within the fund to date have been for renewables projects.
A number of international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and more recently the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), have also provided energy-efficiency credit lines. These credit lines help local companies buy and install energy-efficient equipment, appliances and materials, as well as small-scale renewable technologies. Investments include modern production facilities, double-glazed windows, insulation, gas boilers, solar water heaters and rooftop solar panels. Technical assistance is often offered along with the credit lines to help companies design and appraise their projects.
The Belarusian partner banks determine the interest rates, loan terms, currency and other conditions within the product development framework, based on the needs of the company and the bank's risk management policy. The terms of financing are specified by the participating bank on an individual basis.
The maturity of most commercial loans is <= 5 years. The Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus (the DBRB) can finance long-term projects of major social and economic importance through direct lending or financing by leasing, or can act as an intermediary to attract borrowed funds from the financial market. Other Belarusian commercial banks can finance projects through the securities market.
Energy service companies (ESCOs) do not exist in Belarus, and awareness of the concept and its benefits is low. However, in December 2015 the government adopted the Law on Public-Private Partnership to encourage foreign investment, aligned with international practices and in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the International Finance Corporation and the EBRD. Given the effectiveness of ESCOs in public-private partnerships, this law and supporting mechanisms for attracting foreign investment should raise the potential for ESCO market development in Belarus in the medium term.
The Presidential Decree on Increasing the Energy Efficiency of Multi-family Housing, which is currently at the public discussion stage, provides for the thermal modernisation of buildings to reduce residential sector heat consumption. It prescribes the creation of prerequisites and conditions to organise thermal modernisation of the housing stock, and the engagement of a wide range of financing sources. The sources of funding will be citizen funds (at least 50%); local budget funds coming from the privatisation of residential premises, which will contribute at least 10% of the annual total; local budgets for overhauling the housing stock, which will provide up to 10% of the set annual amount; and any other sources of funding not prohibited by law.
On 1 September 2013, the STB ISO 50001-2013 standard on energy management systems became valid in Belarus. Unlike energy audits, it is voluntary for organisations to implement an energy management system. According to data from the Register of the System of Certificates of Conformity for Management Systems, only five certificates of conformity have been issued (see the website of the State Committee for Standardization of the Republic of Belarus: http://ps.belgiss.by).
Belarus does not have a single independent energy regulatory authority. The Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade is responsible for regulating electricity and heat tariffs for industrial customers, independent suppliers and all categories other than residential consumers, based on the 2011 Decree on Price Tariffs. Residential energy tariffs are regulated by the Council of Ministers, and regional executive committees and the Minsk City Executive Committee are responsible for regulating heat tariffs not already covered by the Council of Ministers.
With progressive reform in view, the government is planning to develop a body of legislation governing: 1) the ownership structure of the electricity and heat industry, 2) state involvement in setting electricity and heat tariffs, and 3) the formation and functioning of the wholesale electricity market, including the laws on electricity and heat supply.
Belarus simplified its grid connection rules through the Decree on Grid Connection (August 2014) to allow for the connection of small private generators.
Regulatory functions in the gas sector are the responsibility of the president.
Electricity, heat and gas tariffs are calculated on a cost recovery basis, though the methodology is not disclosed to the public. Tariffs are adopted by resolution of the Council of Ministers and are subsidised for end users. There is no obligation to publish annual reports or information about various tariff structures, although end-use consumer tariffs are available.
Case-by-case FITs are available for specific categories of consumers, such as investors with large-scale industrial projects or industrial plants of strategic importance. Each case is considered separately and a relevant presidential decree is issued.
The price of imported gas is determined by contract between Gazprom and the Ministry of Energy. The state regulates the prices of LNG, gas and oil transmission and distribution, and petroleum products. After consultation with the relevant companies, the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade approves the tariffs in a special document that itemises the tariffs, costs and mark-ups.
Residential electricity tariffs are determined by consumption level and time of consumption (peak or off-peak periods), but other consumer categories have the choice of a single or differentiated tariff. Gas prices for final consumers depend on import prices and transport costs, and natural gas meters have been installed for all industrial and domestic consumers. Heat tariffs vary according to consumer category and area.
Transit of electricity via the power grid is carried out within the framework of the Common Economic Space, which covers Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia and includes a pricing and tariff policy. Electricity transit from CIS countries is governed by the Agreement on Electricity Transit within the CIS (2000). On 29 May 2019, a protocol was signed amending the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union of 29 May 2014 (regarding the formation of a common EAEU electricity market). The protocol defines the general principles for the formation, functioning and development of a common EAEU electricity market. Within this framework, co‑operation is based on the equal rights of member states, balancing the economic interests of electricity producers and consumers and the priority use of market mechanisms, ensuring unhindered access to natural monopoly entities.
The strategic plans of the Baltic States’ and Ukraine’s energy systems to join the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) energy system have reduced the external connections – and thus the reliability – of Belarus’s energy system. If Lithuania’s electricity system and Ukraine’s Unified Energy System stop parallel operations with Belarus’s Unified Energy System, out of its 11 interstate overhead lines, only 4 with Russia’s Unified Energy System will remain in operation. The Concept for Developing Power Generation Facilities and Power Grids to 2030 therefore proposes options to improve Belarus’s power system reliability.
Belarus transits gas from Russia to Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Russia’s Kaliningrad region (through Lithuania). Gazprom-TransGaz operates the Yamal-Europe transmission pipeline that provides gas to Germany and is owned by Gazprom. However, Gazprom-TransGaz does not participate in preparing the Ten-Year Network Development Plans for Transmission Systems and Network Codes with the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas.
Oil transportation in Belarus is carried out through the Druzhba pipelines system: the Unecha-Polotsk, with a capacity of 29 Mt/year, the Unecha-Mozyr (80 Mt/year) and the Surgut-Polotsk (40 Mt/year).
Oil from the Unecha-Mozyr line is used for processing at Mozyr Refinery; the Mozyr-Brody pipeline transits oil to Ukraine, Hungary and Slovakia; and the Mozyr-Adamova Zastava line transports oil to Poland and Germany. The main oil pipelines, Surgut-Polotsk and Unecha-Polotsk, provide oil for refining at Naftan; the Polotsk-Birzai-Mazeikiai line transits oil to Lithuania, and Latvia receives oil via the Polotsk-Ventspils main oil pipeline. Total refining capacity of the two Belarusian refineries (Mozyr and Novopolotsk) is 22 Mt/year.