The Federal Grid Company of the Unified Energy System, Russia’s transmission state monopoly, will spend $116m this year on research and development, according to its chairman, Ernesto Ferlenghi. This is a dramatic increase on the $3m it spent in 2008.

He said the company is increasing its spending as part of an effort to explore of more energy efficient technologies, such as smart meters and Smart Grids.

Ferlenghi said: “The environment is now a top priority. This is an experiment we are going through.” He added that the goal is to manage the whole of the Russian grid network from Moscow.

Federal Grid operates the world’s largest high-voltage network, with over 118 000 km of transmission lines and 758 substations, according to its website.

The company says that it plans to spend $6bn annually over the next five years on renovating and expanding Russia’s power network.

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