Ukraine exceeds 1 GW of installed renewable capacity

By mid-2016, the total capacity of renewable energy plants in Ukraine reached 1,028 MW. According to a report released by the SEF-2016 KYIV International Forum of Sustainable Energy in Ukraine, as of July 1, the country had 453 MW of solar plants, 426 MW of wind farms, 31 MW of biomass power and 118 MW of small hydro power plants.

About a year ago, the Ukrainian government established new FIT compensation rules; in early 2016, it approved the new feed-in premium rules for domestic content. It seems to have given a new push to Ukrainian renewable development.

“After the establishment of the new tariff rules a year ago, we witnessed the beginning of the new renaissance in the Ukrainian renewable energy sector,” Vitaliy Daviy, CEO of Innovative Business Centre (IBCentre), the organizer of SEF-2016, told pv magazine. “Today, we clearly see the interest of some new investors from the U.S., some European countries and especially from Turkey.”

In the first six months of 2016, 14 renewable energy plants totaling 39 MW went online in Ukraine, representing a total investment of over €42 million ($46.9 million). 12 out of the 14 newly developed projects are solar power plants with a total capacity of 37 MW; the remaining two are biofuel facilities. 22.2 MW of PV projects have been developed by Podilskiy Energoconsulting based in Vinnitsa, in central Ukraine.

According to the ministry of environment and natural resources, 34 more solar plants totaling over 120 MW are to be completed in the second half of the year. Seven of these projects will have a capacity of 5 MW or more. The new feed-in tariffs in Ukraine are set at €0.1599/kWh ($0.18) for ground-mounted solar power plants commissioned in 2016 and €0.1502/kWh for projects powered between 2017 and 2019. In order to receive a higher compensation, many solar developers are aiming to complete the ongoing projects by the end of this year.

While international developers are starting to show their interest in Ukraine, several domestic companies keep actively increasing their market share, says Daviy: “Since 2015, the leaders of the Ukrainian solar industry have managed to enhance their positions. For instance, Ukrainian solar developer Rentechno is about to launch a number of solar plants totaling 6 MW. The company is also planing to finish two larger objects, 3.5 MW each, by the end of the year.”

According to the expert, there are some new strong leaders on the rise. One of them is Ukrainian EPC contractor Podilskiy Energoconsulting, which is expected to complete 53.3 MW of new solar facilities in 2016. The company is about to complete 38 MW of PV plants in the Vinnitsa region.

Another strong domestic player, Kiev-based Ukrainian Solar Systems LLC, is preparing to launch a 1.7 MW facility in the Dnepropetrovsk region, which will be the first tracking solar plant in Ukraine. “A Ukrainian producer of solar module mounting systems, Ukrainian Systems Solar, has taken a strong position in the domestic market and recently started exporting its solutions to other countries, such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Romania,” says Daviy.

According to the SEF-2016 KYIV report, another Ukrainian company, Solar Steel Construction, based in Dnepropetrovk, is working on a 4.1 MW PV project in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of western Ukraine. One more PV plant with a capacity of 18.3 MW is being developed in the same region by U.S.-based Paradigma Invest Group. Last week, a Germany-based solar developer Work Team s.r.o. announced completion of a 4 MW PV facility in Vysokopillya, in southern Ukraine.

“Despite the difficult situation in the Ukrainian economy, all of the projects so far have been completed on time,” says Daviy. “International as well as domestic investors demonstrate interest in small, no more 1 MW, as well as larger, 5-20 MW, solar projects. However, so far, there is nothing like the famous over-100-MW-large solar farms that Active Solar was building in Crimea before the crisis.”

Recently, the Ukrainian government announced plans to turn Chernobyl’s nuclear wasteland into a large-scale solar farm. The exclusion zone covers more than 200,000 hectares and has a complete high-voltage grid infrastructure fit for renewable energy generation. A large number of trained professionals working in the region make this plan even more attractive. Therefore, it is not surprising that two U.S. investment companies and four Canadian companies active in the energy sector have already expressed their interest in the project, Daviy told pv magazine: “In addition, negotiations are underway with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The government has a really big interest in reanimating this territory by building a utility-scale solar facility. However, at the moment, there is almost no information on the project."

Chernobyl’s solar future as well as other state initiatives, latest trends, legislative changes, investment and financing programs in the Ukrainian renewable energy sector are expected to be discussed at the SEF-2016 KYIV-8th International Forum of Sustainable Energy, which will take place in Kiev October 11-12.