The Ukrainian government has begun using solar panels at gas distribution stations (GTS) to keep them running despite the destruction of the electricity grid by Russian troops.
“Due to hostilities transmission grid lines are often being damaged or completely destroyed, Oleksandr Kozakevych, chairman of the Ukraine Association of Renewable Energy told pv magazine. “Despite workers of transmission system operator Ukrenergo bravely and quickly fixing them, often risking their own lives, many critical infrastructures are left without electricity supply,” Kozakevych said, explaining that in these conditions solar power is ensuring a smooth operation of important energy infrastructure.
The Ukrainian gas transmission system operator announced plans to install solar panels at gas distribution stations to save energy in 2021. Given last year's rise in electricity prices in Europe and Ukraine, the installation of solar panels and batteries at gas distribution stations for their own consumption would save costs, the operator explained.
This decision reflected the growing popularity of solar power in Ukraine over the past few years. In 2021 Ukrainian companies started to install more solar panels on their sites – on roofs and facades – and generate electricity for their own consumption without selling it to the grid at feed-in-tariff. “The war only confirms the importance of further active development of renewable energy sources (RES). It is independence from resources, safety for the environment and the health of citizens, and small distributed generation provides energy if grid lines are damaged,” Kozakevych said.
The Ukraine Association of Renewable Energy recently reported that shelling by the Russian army damaged equipment and panels at solar stations in all regions where hostilities are taking place. Kozakevych said that some stations are occupied, personnel does not have access to them, while enemy equipment is placed on their territory using the stations as a cover from the attack of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “In addition to the physical damage of the power plant, the owners of solar power plants are experiencing financial difficulties. As to electricity consumption fall, renewable energy sources operate with constant curtailments,” he said.
“Some solar plants have been operating for only 1-3 days in the last 2 weeks,” Kozakevych said, adding that as Ukraine's Energy System synchronized with ENTSO-E since Mar. 16, launching electricity trade with EU countries would help to reduce the number of RES curtailments.
The Ukraine government is currently considering issuing financial support to solar power plants in the country, to help them in these difficult times. The Ukraine Energy Ministry has issued an order stating that all proceeds, including from the sale of electricity produced from renewable energy, are used to repay debts accumulated in 2020 to Ukraine nuclear plant operator Energoatom of UAH 4 billion (€122 million).
“Work is currently underway to amend this order the main purpose of which is to determine the required level of payments to renewable energy producers. The rest of the proceeds will be sent to Energoatom,” Kozakevych said.
“In this regard, representatives of the renewable energy industry, realizing the difficult situation in Ukraine's energy sector, appealed to the Cabinet of Ministers, the National Commission for Energy Regulation, and the Ministry of Energy with a proposal to set the level of payment for electricity from renewables at least 20% of the feed-in-tariff,” he added.
However, the proposals by the National Commission for Regulation of Economic Competition on the required level of payments were set at 16% of the feed-in-tariff for wind power plants, 15% for solar power plants. “Such a level of feed-in-tariff is insufficient to cover the operating costs of SPP, especially for small solar plants, and in the state of constant curtailments of generation, which cumulatively reach up to 50% of the projected electricity production volume,” Kozakevych said.
Author: Vladislav Vorotnikov
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