Ukrainians charge up renewables commitments
LONDON — Right in the heart of London on Oct. 10, Ukrainian officials and experts reaffirmed their nation's commitment to generating 25 percent of the country's energy from renewables before the year 2035.
The pledge was given at a renewable energy conference focused on Ukraine at the headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, part of the Ukrainian Week in London and just two days after the United Nations issued a critical warning about “disastrous” consequences if global warming remains unaddressed.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, said on Oct. 8 that the planet faces catastrophic consequences unless the global community undertakes "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."
For its part, Ukraine is stepping up and seems to be punching above its weight in the renewable energy sector — despite having considerable reserves of natural gas.
Officials in London said that Ukraine was working hard to meet the same renewables goals set in the European Union, while experts affirmed that the country was on track to reach a 25-percent share of renewable energy in total output before 2035, even though the country only currently produces 2 percent of its energy from renewables.
Recent years have seen significant growth in renewable energy projects across Ukraine, but mostly in the sunny south and south-eastern coastal regions. The growth has been encouraged by lucrative feed-in tariffs, EBRD subsidies and significant interest from prospecting European investors.
For example, on Sept. 6, Norwegian company NBT AS signed a multimillion-euro contract with the Power Construction Corporation of China Limited, or POWERCHINA, to build a large 250-megawatt wind power plant in Kherson Oblast. Scatec Solar, another Norwegian company, has signed agreements securing two projects with a total capacity of 83 megawatts in central Ukraine. Other investors in the past two years alone include: Eco Optima, UDP Renewables, TIU Canada, Rengy Development, Recom, and Rener.
profitability in renewable energy is heavily driven by regulation and rates — so that uncertainty has to be removed.”
William Coppoolse, CEO of ENGIE Ukraine, said French multinational ENGIE was eyeing more renewable acquisitions and investments in Ukraine.
“We're moving very strongly into renewables…globally, ENGIE will reach 11,000 megawatts of output by 2021 — that's Ukraine's total target before 2035,” he said, adding that Ukrainian developers should be mindful of conserving the energy they have, and not just producing more.
In London, renewable energy is an area of prospective investment that has created palpable excitement at conferences this week.
Some investors pointed to opportunities linked to the expected growth in Ukraine’s agricultural sector — farms will look to installing biofuel, wind and solar technology to reduce costs and maximize profits from rising output.
Investor confidence in the sector is also stronger than ever before, as Ukraine moves to pass new laws that streamline investor entry to the sector and protect businesses from any changes in energy tariffs.
“Investors can already seek arbitration under both international and Ukrainian law — through international energy treaties to which Ukraine is a signatory — if they encounter a dispute,” said Anna Vlasyuk, a lawyer for Ukraine’s National Investment Council.
Rengy Development's Glibochok Solar II project in Vinnytsia Oblast has a 6.4-megawatt capacity. The renewable energy company has more than a dozen projects across Ukraine. Other investors in Ukraine's renewables sector include: Eco Optima, UDP Renewables, TIU Canada, Recom, Rener, NBT AS, and Scatec Solar. (Rengy Development)
Roman Voloshchak, a power engineer, descends the stairs of one of the four wind turbines at the Eco-Optima wind farm, located near the western Ukrainian town of Staryi Sambir, on Feb. 21, 2017. (Yuliana Romanyshyn)