Diversification of Belarus’ energy supply is a Government priority and foreign companies are beginning to seize the opportunities available.
Belarus’ determination to diversify its energy industry and increase self-sufficiency provides great opportunities for foreign investors. Greenfield Project Management has been involved in Belarus since 2003 when it was asked to develop a public private partnership investment scheme for the country’s biofuels sector.
From 2010 it will start constructing a three phase €250 million project to build two bio-energy plants, producing 650 million tonnes of bio-ethanol a year for sale in the EU, plus biogas and ‘green’ electricity.
Initially the Irish bio-energy company will use normally-farmed crops to produce the fuel, but longer term aims to use biomass harvested from land contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster. The latter proposal is part of the Belarus Chernobyl Bio-Clean Project, which will remove radioactive particles from the contaminated area far more quickly than the process of natural decay.
Greenfield was attracted to Belarus because it offered land on a scale not available elsewhere in Europe, and because of the wider market conditions and government support. Central to these was Belarus’ cost advantages, close proximity to key EU markets, skilled workforce and achievements in science and technology, plus its infrastructure and existing transit network.
The EU Eastern Partnership has unlocked new funding streams for Greenfield to draw on, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank. Banking experts have estimated the potential of the biofuels sector to grow to three to six per cent of Belarus’ GDP.