Ukraine: Rapid expansion of solar PV continues in 2017

By Carl Johannes Muth

In the background of the ongoing conflict with Russia over energy supplies, the Ukrainian state is focusing increasingly on the expansion of solar energy. According to a report presented by the expert board of the 6th International Conference on Exhibition Solar Energy Industry in Central and Eastern Europe (CISOLAR-2017), 54 new solar energy projects with a total capacity of 460MW are expected to be implemented by the end of 2017. Seven of these projects have capacity over 20 MW, nine more than 10 MW and more than 20 projects will have capacity over 5 MW.

For 2016, CISOLAR estimates the increase of new PV at 107 MW by the end of November, which boosted the country´s installed capacity to a total of 568 MW. The investments in 49 projects of up to 20 MW each exceeded €120 million according to the report. In addition more than 700 small projects (less 100 kW capacity) were implemented in the private sector, and the total capacity of private plants exceeded 8.1 MW. Including the anticipated increase in capacity in 2017, by the end of this year Ukraine could break through 1 GW barrier.

For some time Ukraine has striven for energy independence and in this regard relies increasingly on alternative energy sources. In 2015, the  Ukrainian government decided to fund a €15 billion investment program for stepping up renewable energy. Also last year the plan was announced to turn Chernobyl’s nuclear wasteland into a 1 GW solar farm. The anticipated PV plant would correspond to the capacity of the wrecked nuclear power plant and could rely on existing power supply systems. Companies from USA, Canada, China and Germany have shown interest in this €1.1 billion project

According to a 2015 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Ukraine has large untapped renewable energy potential that could boost the share of renewable energy in its total final energy consumption to 21.8% by 2030.