In 2022, Ukraine ranked among the world’s top 20 countries with the largest solar energy fleet, with a total installed capacity of 7.7 GW. Large ground-mounted solar power plants took a large share with 6.2 GW of installed capacity, while installations on commercial and residential buildings reached 1.5 GW.
The war in Ukraine and its associated energy crunch has pushed the civilians in record numbers to install solar power systems and batteries. Due to the ongoing crisis, there is ample news about the energy crises in several parts of the country.
Almost 90% of Ukrainian renewable generation capacity is installed in areas affected by active hostilities. In mid-March, the Ukrainian Association of Renewable Energy (UARE) said that 37% of the nation’s ground-mounted solar project capacity had been built in areas where armed conflict was taking place, with another 34% in adjacent areas.
Fortunately, with the help of small solar power systems & batteries, critical infrastructure such as hospitals are protected from blackouts.
A precarious moment:
Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a vast social and economic shock for Ukrainians and Europe. At the same time, it was a turning point for the further development of the energy sector.
The war crisis in Ukraine came at a time already marked by insufficient progress toward the net-zero transition. Now challenging economic conditions threatened its acceleration, and accumulating physical risks made its necessity even more evident.
In another dimension, commercial rooftops and façade solar PV have become popular in recent years as a way to save on energy bills.
“Cross-subsidizing in the electricity sector still exists in Ukraine: tariffs for households are state-regulated, while business pays market price for electricity which is on average three times higher than for households,” Olga Sukhopara, Development Director of the Ukrainian Association of Renewable Energy. “That’s why businesses started installing solar systems for their own consumption more often – to lower energy bills and to provide themselves with electricity at fixed price years ahead.”
As the war has severely impacted the solar industry in Ukraine, the industry is mainly focused on survival now. Many of the country’s solar factories have been destroyed or damaged, and the ones that are still operating are struggling to find raw materials and components. This has led to a sharp decrease in solar panel production in Ukraine.
Advantages of Distributed Solar
During two months of the war in Ukraine, about 30-40% of solar power plants have been destroyed, and this figure may increase as the fight continues. Most of the facilities are located in the southern and central parts of Ukraine, in the Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Odesa regions, which today are at the epicenter of heavy fighting and shelling.
But one crucial fact is that home solar power plants are the basis of energy security in war conditions. Due to shell damage, many Ukrainian settlements have been without electricity for several weeks. The only energy source was home solar power, which helped sustain life and save many lives.
New small-capacity solar power plants are being developed in Ukraine to avoid blackouts, helping businesses stay afloat amid dire economic conditions.
Our energy future must include a healthy mixture of solar farms, community solar, and rooftop solar. Utility-scale solar alone is not enough. Bringing distributed solar into the mix not only offers cost benefits for the consumers and for the utility companies themselves, but it also increases opportunities for private investment and employment: new jobs to build a new, improved electrical grid.
With efficiencies evolving, pricing being reduced every day, and new technologies being experimented with, it will be interesting to see where we are in the solar industry in the next couple of years. What do you think the future will look like?