• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

An Economics and Engineering Approach to Energy Supply Development in Remote Areas of Russia

An Economics and Engineering Approach to Energy Supply Development in Remote Areas of Russia

© iStock

Ilya Dolmatov, Director of the HSE Institute of Economics and Utility Regulation, heads a Mirror Lab project titled ‘Models of Energy Infrastructure Development in Russia’s Remote and Isolated Territories’ and implemented together with a university in Irkutsk. Why is energy efficiency a particularly pressing problem in remote territories? How can economics and engineering work together to solve it? Ilya Dolmatov addressed these and other issues in his interview for The HSE LooK.

Ilya Dolmatov, Director of the HSE Institute of Economics and Utility Regulation

Collaboration Continued and Reinvented

We decided to participate in the Mirror Labs project because we were attracted to its competitive format. It seemed unusual that it required having a joint project with a partner university specifically located in a region away from Moscow and St Petersburg, and our institute works quite a lot with such regions on issues of energy and utilities infrastructure development. Thus, we were sure that we could find a partner with whom we could jointly develop a particular area of interest.

When the competition was announced, our institute began collaborating with our colleagues from Irkutsk National Research Technical University (INRTU). They had internships with us on the economic and technical aspects of energy supply development in remote areas of Russia as part of an earlier research and education cooperation agreement signed in January 2020 between INRTU and HSE University. It was during the discussions about future research collaboration and possible joint publications that we decided to establish a legal basis for our further cooperation.

A project aimed at analysing issues of power supply in remote and isolated areas of Russia became the basis for our application

The Institute of Economics and Utility Regulation has been a part of HSE University for 25 years now, and over this time, we have studied energy economics and the regulation of infrastructure sectors.

There are quite a few remote territories in Russia isolated from power systems, which means that the cost of electricity is significantly (two to three times) higher for consumers in those territories than in central Russia. The efficiency of such energy supply systems is rather low, and because they are government controlled, electricity prices are regulated. The issues of energy supply systems’ efficiency as well as technical and economic regulation are quite relevant.

We are economists who interact with almost the entire country in terms of implementing projects in the energy and utilities sector, and we know that energy infrastructure development in remote and isolated territories of Russia is an important issue

Our institute is capable of analysing energy economics. However, in order to give comprehensive recommendations to government, federal and regional authorities on the issues mentioned above, we needed a partner who deals with technical solutions for the energy sector. Our colleagues at INRTU possess the necessary technical and engineering competencies. Our aim is to offer the best practices and techniques in terms of science and expertise. Although the mirror labs competition period lasts three years, we understand that finding effective solutions is an ongoing challenge. We will continue to work on this with a particular view to existing opportunities and priorities.

An Inter-Institutional Team

Our institute works on the project from an economics perspective, while the engineering aspects are taken care of by our colleagues from INRTU. We complement each other while trying to solve the complex problem of efficient energy supply to remote and isolated territories.

The institute’s project team was formed on a voluntary basis, since, under the terms of the competition, we receive funding for organisational matters (eg, mobility, acquisition of databases etc,), while no funds are directly allocated for research. The project team is also dynamic.

We have the core team members, whose responsibility is creating databases and drawing up best practices both in Russia and abroad (but new members are welcome to join us as well)

Regular internal analysis of publication ideas and possible joint research ideas can help our colleagues with similar research interests to find each other and cooperate.

Since we did not have a formal statement of work and needed to formulate it ourselves, the project team agreed that everyone has their own competencies, and everyone should contribute (publications, databases, or pre-project exploratory enquires that may be of interest to external clients) to the common goals of the project.

Our collaboration with INRTU is not limited to the agenda of the Mirror Lab project, so it often triggers cooperation in other applied projects. We have each other in mind when we meet with different customers, and that is how we and INRTU received a commercial offer from the firm BitRiver to work on economic incentives for the power supply of mining farms. Our colleagues from Irkutsk also invited us to participate in a competition for student initiatives carried out by large energy firms in the Irkutsk region as part of the Electric Power Engineering Laboratory.

Together with students from the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, where I am an Associate Professor, we were ranked in the top five out of 30 teams

Moreover, we received a certificate for 10,000 roubles to purchase digital equipment for active participation in an accelerator titled ‘Laboratory of Energy 2020’. The project for the competition was developed within the framework of the mirror lab.

What Future Has in Store for Us

In addition to our formal responsibilities (joint publications, the collection and systematisation of best practices of development models of energy infrastructure in remote and isolated territories), our project team gets involved in external initiatives. In the process of cooperation, we find out the interests and competencies of other members and recommend each other to other projects.

For example, I participated in a weeklong advanced training programme for regulators from CIS countries, who shared their practices on regulating tariff rates. This led to the publication of a monograph. Furthermore, I would likely not have known about the training myself unless colleagues from INRTU recommended me to the organiser.

This is an important component of the whole mirror lab project—it gives us, the participants, the opportunity to get to know each other, our competencies and expertise better

We start with a formal project, but if the interaction goes well, this will inevitably lead to other events. This is evidence of effective interaction.

Mirror Labs are joint research projects between HSE University and its partner institutions. Launched in 2020, this format was the first inter-university initiative of its kind aimed at developing networks and collaborative partnerships, while also enhancing cooperation in research and academic activities between HSE University and other leading Russian academic institutions.

The name ‘mirror’ labs refers to the financing of projects on parity terms and pooling research resources from both sides: providing each other with necessary expertise, sharing analytical methodology and results, conducting training seminars for each other and hosting interns. Research activities may be carried out by joint project teams over a period of three years with the option for extension.

Mirror lab projects can be carried out in various fields and a diverse array of formats.

See also:

Mathematicians and Practicing Surgeons to Fight Venous Diseases

One million people in Russia suffer from venous diseases. The ‘Intelligent data analysis for healthcare information systems’ Mirror Lab project brings together expertise in mathematics and medicine in order to better diagnose various conditions in phlebology. Project leader Vasilii Gromov talked to The HSE LooK about its achievements and prospects.

Two Russian Regions Cooperate in Migration Studies as Part of Mirror Labs Project

What does Kaliningrad Oblast, an exclave Russian territory, have in common with Perm Krai, a region in the Urals? How do researchers use digital humanities methods to study migration? Sergei Kornienko, Leading Research Fellow at the Group for Historical Research (HSE University-Perm), heads the Mirror Lab project ‘Migration as a factor of social transformation of Soviet regions during the post-war reconstruction period: an analysis through digital humanities’. In this interview for The HSE LooK, he talks about this collaboration.

HSE University Collaborates with University in Southern Russia to Compare Values and Identities across Generations and Regions

Is there a system of values that is common to the whole population of Russia? Do values differ across generations? Is it possible to carry out research among refugees? HSE University researchers joined forces with their peers from Kuban State Technological University to study values and intercultural relations across Russian regions as part of a Mirror Labs project. The HSE LooK talked about this cooperation to Nadezhda Lebedeva, Director of the HSE Centre for Sociocultural Research, who heads up the Mirror Lab project, and project participant Victoria Galyapina, Leading Research Fellow at the same Centre.

Harnessing Synergy

Through its Mirror Laboratories project, HSE University develops collaborations with academic institutions across the country. Today, it includes 22 ongoing projects in partnership with 20 universities in mathematics, computer science, economics, sociology, biology, history and many other fields. Marina Litvintseva, Director for Advanced Research at HSE University, coordinates international and mirror laboratory projects. In this year’s second issue of HSE LooK, she talked about the development of mirror laboratories and the future of the project.

HSE University Announces Results of Mirror Labs 2022 Competition

The Mirror Labs research project competition is aimed at HSE University departments that are planning to conduct joint studies with other Russian universities and research centres. The competition is now in its third year. A total of 19 academic organisations from 14 regions of Russia submitted applications as partners of HSE University, including 9 organisations participating for the first time.

Scholars from Moscow and Vladivostok Join Efforts to Study Institutes and Preferences in Economic Behaviour

Applications from HSE departments for the ‘Mirror Laboratories’ open project competition are open until May 20. One of the ‘mirror laboratories’ successfully operating today was created as a result of a similar competition in 2020 by economists from HSE University and Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) to study institutes and preferences in economic behaviour. Alexis Belianin, Head of the HSE International Laboratory for Experimental and Behavioural Economics, talked about how peers from Moscow and Vladivostok collaborate.

Mirror Laboratories: Uniting Researchers from Different Universities

HSE Vice Rector Maria Yudkevich speaks about the launch of Mirror Laboratories, the third open project competition held by HSE University. Teams from Russian universities, research organisations, and government research centres looking to collaborate with HSE research departments are invited to participate in the competition. Applications will be accepted until May 20.

IT at HSE Perm: From Academic Projects to Commercial Research

Aleksey Kychkin, Head of the Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Empirical Studies, spoke to the HSE Look about his background, industry projects the lab has been doing, and student involvement in research.

HSE University Launches Third Mirror Laboratories Competition

The competition is open to HSE University research units planning to conduct joint projects with academic institutions, research organisations and state academic centres of the Russian Federation. Applications are open until May 20, 2022.

‘Our Strength Is in Our Interdisciplinarity, Both Methodologically and Practically’

What are the necessary digital competencies for students of humanities? Where can they apply their knowledge and skills? What projects in digital humanities are currently underway at HSE University Perm? Dinara Gagarina, HSE University-Perm scholar and the national representative of Digital Humanities Course Registry, answers these and other questions in her interview with the HSE Look.