Ukraine’s post-war recovery must be based on green principles and sustainable development. Reconstruction in communities has already begun: municipalities are developing renewable energy sources (RES), increasing the reliability of the electricity supply. Therefore, it is necessary to create incentives for communities seeking to have their own RES generation and provide them with access to financing.
Since the beginning of the full scale invasion, Ecoclub, together with the municipalities, has installed five solar power plants (SPPs) and plans to build six more by the end of the summer. Ecoclub has also developed dozens of feasibility studies for the construction of SPPs and the use of heat pumps in municipalities (the documents are the first steps toward installation). But the demand is much bigger: the organization has received more than 300 requests from local governments for assistance in installing solar power plants for the needs of hospitals and water utilities. The knowledge and experience gained was presented at the event “Increasing the energy resilience of municipalities as a basic level of Ukraine’s energy security“ on July 13 in Kyiv.
“Renewable energy is our energy front that strikes back at Russia. As of January 2023, more than 10 GW of capacity has been built in Ukraine. Of these, 6,400 MW are industrial solar power plants, and 1,400 MW are solar power plants installed for households. Wind power plants in Ukraine have more than 1,700 MW of capacity. Biomass – 300 MW, small hydroelectric power plants – a little more than 100 MW,” said Yuriy Shafarenko, Deputy Chairman of the State Agency on Energy Efficiency,
Despite the open Russian war, Ukrainian municipalities continue to develop decentralized energy sources. According to the State Agency for Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving of Ukraine, since the beginning of the open invasion, 16 MW of solar power plants have been installed in Ukraine, 206 MW for households, and 82 MW of wind power plants have been built.
“The power system needs to be restored on the principles of decentralization – small distributed generation. This not only improves security in the event of hostile attacks, but also reduces the cost of electricity procurement, and allows the use of renewable sources and local fuels,” said Olena Lenska, Director of the Department for Renewable Energy Development at the State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving.
The NGO Ecoclub is involved in the deployment of renewable energy in municipalities. In cooperation with four communities, we have installed solar power plants for medical institutions within the framework of the Solar Aid For Ukraine project. In particular, in Zhytomyr and Zviahel (Zhytomyr region), Dubno (Rivne region), and Sumy.
“Alternative energy sources are our security and concern for the environment. We know firsthand what it’s like to live in blackout conditions. This is a difficult period during which we realized how important it is to be energy independent. In addition to security factors, it also means saving on energy bills. Only on the first day of operation, the solar power plant for the local hospital helped us save 60% of electricity consumption from the general grid,” said Oleksandr Lysenko, Mayor of Sumy.
“The 32.4 kW solar power plant that Ecoclub helped install for the local hospital has become a model for other projects. We saw real benefits from its operation, and this prompted us to allocate funds from the local budget for the installation of a 150 kW solar power plant for the needs of the water utility. By the end of the year, we also plan to install another 24 kW station in the child development center (to ensure the operation of the swimming pool during periods of no heating),” said Mykola Borovets, Mayor of Zviahel.
“During the implementation of our first project, the installation of a solar power plant for a local hospital, we faced some obstacles. However, this only added to the excitement of the whole team that we had to implement it. Now the station for the local hospital is successfully operating and generating kilowatts. This experience helped us take into account mistakes at the planning stage of a new project. We are ready to share our experience and the path we have overcome with communities,” said Svitlana Olshanska, Deputy Mayor of Zhytomyr.
Ecoclub is also working with communities to integrate heat pumps into district heating systems. We have selected 10 sites and developed 11 preliminary feasibility studies for the installation of heat pumps in district heating systems.
The conclusions in the documents show the prospects for implementing such projects, even given the current level of energy prices. The partner communities – Khmelnytskyi, Kostopil (Rivne Oblast), Zviahel, and Lutsk – are ready to install heat pumps, but are looking for additional sources of funding due to their cost.
“By installing the heat pump, we want to evaluate the practicality of its use in the municipal economy. It should provide houses in the city with alternative heating and, possibly, hot water in the future. There is a possibility that in the future we will want to switch a significant part of the city’s heat supply to heat pumps,” emphasized Mykola Borovets.
“Ecoclub’s experts have developed feasibility studies for the installation of heat pumps for the children’s sports school and swimming pool. This facility is strategically important for us, and providing it with hot water and heating from a gas boiler is expensive and problematic technically. The installation of a heat pump will help solve this problem and reduce the financial burden on the local budget in terms of energy bills,” said Yuriy Kuzniuk, Deputy Mayor of Kostopil.
The article was published within the framework of the project “Closing the Loop: A Just Energy Transition Designed by Cities and Regions”, implemented with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of NGO Ecoclub and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.