Why Can’t Russia Produce Turbines For Crimea? – Part II

Dear Readers:

Golum was unhappy when Crimea was taken away…

Continuing with this piece from VZGLIAD, written by Olga Samofalova.  Yesterday we discussed the fact that the Crimean peninsula, now under administrative jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, needs to build a brand new electric energy grid, almost from scratch.  To do this, they need massive turbines.  Problem:  American sanctions forbid the sale of such heavy machinery and infrastructure to Russia.  One recalls that the Americans were visibly upset when Crimea broke away from the Ukraine and returned to Russia.  They (=the Americans) had been licking their chops, counting their chickens, and performing various other metaphors while planning to build a NATO naval base at Sebastopol and install Anti-Ballistic Missile installations just 3 kilometers away from Russia’s border.   And then, much to their consternation, the quivering booty was ripped out of their slavering jaws practically at the 11th hour.

“I will lead you all into NATO….”

Lashing out against all these allegories, the Americans imposed economic sanctions on Russia.  Not just in ineffectual rage, but also some kind of desperate hope that Russia would cave and hand back the prize.   Nations like Germany might have preferred to just whistle a little tune, carry on as usual, and continue selling equipment to the Russians.  But, let’s face it, Germany is not a sovereign nation, and never has been, not since their defeat in World War II.  Economically, politically, and militarily, Germany is a vassal of the United States.  When the piper plays his little tune, the Germans have to dance.  I know that’s blunt talk, but somebody had to come out and say it.

The German SGT5-2000E

In the case of the turbines, however, the crafty Krauts were able to find a loophole.  Through a third party distributor, the Siemens AG company, whose motto is “Ingenuity For Life”, was able to sell 4 of the massive turbines, model SGT5-2000E,  to Russia.  Two of these pieces have already been delivered to the Crimean peninsula.  These babies can handle a load of 168 Megawatts apiece.  And, by the way, I think I had a factual error in my post of yesterday when I wrote that:  Russia is currently building two electricity stations for Crimea, each of which can produce 940 megawatts.

A closer reading seems to imply (although I am still not 100% sure) that the 940 megawatts is the total of what both stations will produce, not apiece.  I derive this from translating Olga’s third paragraph which gets into the numbers; and not having a degree in electrical engineering, I am not 100% sure if the turbines run in series and that therefore the wattage is just added up.  Perhaps I should just give a straight translation of this paragraph and let my engineeringly savvy readers figure it out:

Российские компании серийно производят только турбины для электростанций малой мощности. Например, мощность газовой турбины ГТЭ-25П составляет 25 МВт. Но современные электростанции достигают мощности 400–450 МВт (как и в Крыму), и им нужны более мощные турбины – 160–290 МВт. Поставленная в Севастополь турбина имеет как раз нужную мощность 168 МВт. Россия вынуждена находить способы обойти западные санкции, чтобы выполнить программу по обеспечению энергетической безопасности Крымского полуострова.

Puny Russian turbine

Russian companies serially produce turbines only for small-capacity electrostations.  For example, the capacity of the gas tubine ГТЭ-25П comprises 25 Megawatts.  But contemporary electrostations reach capacities of 400-450 MW (as in the Crimea), and they need more powerful turbines, of 160-290 MW.  The turbine that was delivered to Sebastopol has precisely the needed capacity of 168 MW.  Russia needs to find ways to elude Western sanctions, in order to fulfill its program of providing electricity (independence and) security to the Crimean peninsula.

In conclusion, everybody knows that the Germans always produce good products, especially machinery.  But, Olga asks, why can’t Russia produce stuff like this?   Why are Russian turbines so puny?  Olga’s plaint seems valid.

Well, there is no surprise here, it all has to do with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the ensuing economic decline.  By the beginning of the 2000’s the Russian heavy machine industry was almost on the point of extinction, just like the dinosaurs!  Later, when things picked up a bit, a massive program began of building electric-energy stations.  The demand on Russian machine-building factories was heavy.  But here is where reality took a fork in what many consider to be the wrong direction:  Instead of rebuilding its own heavy-machinery industry, Russia took the other fork in the yellow-brick road:  Paying out good cash to purchase a ready-made product from the West.

Scientists believe that an asteroid may have killed off Soviet Heavy-Machinery program.

On paper this sounds reasonable:  If one needs a bicycle, why waste time and money re-inventing the bicycle?  Why not just buy a bicycle from abroad?  Since the bicycle has already been perfected and is fully made, and ready to be purchased.  And thus began the habit of purchasing fully manufactured gas turbines from Western companies such as Siemens and General Electric.  And indeed, this totally makes economic sense.  In a perfect world, an international division of labor would be ideal – let each nation produce that which it is good at….

Until war rears its ugly head and these Western companies are forced, for political reasons, to withdraw their “precious” from an already-dependent consumer.

[to be continued]

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5 Responses to Why Can’t Russia Produce Turbines For Crimea? – Part II

  1. kickingtoes says:

    Are these wind turbines and if not are they an option? If Russia made them theoretically? Assuming local climatic conditions make it possible (am not an engineer)


  2. kickingtoes says:

    Sorry just reread, but are wind farms an option?


    • yalensis says:

      Hi, Kickingtoes,
      I’m afraid I am ignorant in this matter, I don’t know if wind farms are an option or not.
      Does seems like there would be a lot of wind in the Crimea, though, what with the ocean so close…
      But no, these particular turbines are just regular electromagnetic ones, that part I’m pretty sure about.


      • kickingtoes says:

        Going slightly off topic but I remembered this – Vestas opened a factory on Isle of Wight and then closed it, leaving hundreds of people on an island 13 miles wide and pop. approx 140,000 with no jobs and very little opportunity. I personally know people affected, it was disastrous. Someone has attempted to map renewable energy sources on Isle of Wight now, but I don’t think there are any offshore windfarms there at the moment http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/county.asp?countycode=IOW


        • yalensis says:

          Dear Kickingtoes,
          You don’t need to stay on topic, your comments are always interesting!
          That’s an awful story about the Isle of Wight people. I hope the windfarms can supply them with the energy they need to get by in their daily lives.

          Meanwhile, you would think the British government would do something to help those people.

          I did read somewhere that windmills can be a destructive force, they have a bad tendency to decapitate birds and bats flying nearby.
          Bats, in particular, are essential animals when it comes to keeping the insect population down. I don’t know anybody who wishes to be overrun by insects.


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