Ukraine is taking important strides to increase the use of renewable-energy sources and alternative fuels as part of its broader strategy to reduce its reliance on traditional fossil fuels. It has been estimated that Ukraine has the potential to increase its use of renewable energy ten fold, by the year 2030 and reduce its natural gas consumption by 15% over the same period.
Energy efficiency and energy security are now operative words for companies and countries alike; going forward, renewable and alternative energy issues will only become more important.
The opportunities to invest in Ukraine’s alternative energy sector are exceedingly favorable as the country has diverse reserves of raw material and a well educated workforce possessing the technical know-how required to develop and introduce the latest commercial advances in this sector. As a result, interest in Ukraine’s renewable energy sector continues to grow and the government estimates that the total investment in alternative energy will reach 18 billion USD by the year 2020.
Currently, there there is limited use of solar power in Ukraine. However the country’s above average annual amount of solar irradiation (more than Germany, the industry leader) makes Ukraine an exceedingly attractive producer of solar energy, particularly for existing industrial facilities and the growing agribusiness sector. Based on current studies, the government estimates that there is a 4 GW potential for annual solar energy production in Ukraine.
In response, the government has recently announced plans to attract solar energy producers to certain areas of the country and specifically the Chornobyl exclusion zone. The zone has the advantage of very low land prices and existing infrastructure (roads and transmission lines), that are still in place from the time of the Chornobyl plant’s operations. At the present time 10 companies from seven countries have expressed interest in developing multi-billion dollar solar power projects in this area.
Ukraine has long tradition of respecting and harnessing its abundant natural resources. This 100+ year old windmill in Ukraine is picturesque today, but is also an important reminder of the country’s historical legacy for recognizing and utilizing its bountiful assets.
Today, wind power in Ukraine is in the early stage of re-development and modernization. Industry experts have identified promising regions of sparsely populated southern Ukraine as ideally suited for wind power development owing to above average annual wind speeds which makes production economically viable.
Ukraine’s agricultural sector is the fastest growing industry of the economy and is expected to generate increasing amounts of agricultural and forestry waste, the key resource needed for biomass based heat and power generation. Government policy is currently focused on developing this renewable energy sector as the cost effective inputs of labor and raw materials are among the lowest in Europe.
Ukraine possesses a diverse number of geothermal deposits located in its eastern regions which have the potential to generate sufficient amounts of hot water to make this an economically viable energy resource. Such reserves were only partially developed in the past and for lack of state investment were never put into production. The capacity for their renewal and links to existing infrastructure make these an attractive investment opportunity at this time.
In the energy complex of Ukraine, hydroelectric power plants occupy the third place after thermal and atomic energy. The total installed capacity of the Ukrainian HPS is currently 8% of the total capacity of the combined energy system of the country. The average annual output of electric power by hydroelectric power stations is 10.8 billion kWh. It is established that the economic and technical possibilities of using hydropower resources of Ukraine are about 20 billion kWh, and today no more than 50% is used. The main used potential is concentrated on the hydroelectric power station of the Dnipro cascade (capacity - 3.8 GW, output - 9.9 GWh • h): Dnieper Hydroelectric Station, Kiev Pumped Storage Power Plant (HPSP), Tashlyk HPSP.
In addition to HPP and HPS, 49 so-called small hydroelectric plants are operating in Ukraine, which produce more than 200 million kWh of electricity. But they have drawbacks: rapid wear of equipment, damage to the structures of a pressure fountain, drainage of reservoirs, insufficient use of means of automation and control.