Triggered by debates on climate change and energy security, renewable energy sources are presently high on the political agenda in many countries. In this regard Russia seems to stand aside worldwide developments. Until recently Russia¿s enormous potential in renewable energy sources remained poorly utilised. However, Russia¿s formal commitment to the global climate change regime, its new Energy Strategy 2030, and an increase in wood pellet production suggest a discontinuity. This paper investigates and explains the (limited) progress in the solid bioenergy sector in Northwest Russia. With little Russian experience in this sector, poor technological knowledge on renewables, and inadequate domestic market structures, the development of a domestic solid bioenergy sector is far from easy. Hence, Northwest Russian wood pellet developments cannot be traced back to new federal policies, only partly to local demand and stimulation, and significantly to foreign drivers. Major EU demand for wood pellets and intensified collaboration with foreign companies and organisations leading in the field of solid bioenergy research, technology and trade have triggered these developments. But it is a long way before Russia will be released from its fossil fuel addiction, as repeatedly promised by governmental officials.