How solar power plants for water utilities provide access to water in communities during power outages – Ecoclub Rivne is an environmental NGO

How solar power plants for water utilities provide access to water in communities during power outages

How solar power plants for water utilities provide access to water in communities during power outages

In recent months, Ukraine’s power system has suffered significant damage: the enemy has destroyed about nine gigawatts of generating capacity. Residents of the communities already feel the consequences—they live under scheduled and emergency power outages. To support the operation of critical infrastructure and ensure a more stable water supply during outages, Ecoclub, an international humanitarian organization, has supported the construction of solar power plants for water utilities in the war-affected regions, together with the communities.

These include the Sumy, Poltava, and Odesa regions. Solar power plants are already solving the problem of access to water in critical situations. Thanks to them, water utilities in these communities can operate autonomously for 1.5 hours and provide access to water for about 350,000 people in a critical situation.

To discuss the benefits that communities receive from the work of solar power plants and how they can attract funding for sustainable projects, Ecoclub held an event, “Increasing the Sustainability of Water Supply using Solar Energy,” on June 26 in Kyiv.

Since the beginning of 2022, Ecoclub has been helping communities develop renewable energy as part of the Solar Aid for Ukraine campaign, which is already helping them respond more sustainably to the challenges of war. Thanks to a project with an international humanitarian organization, three communities received solar power plants (SPPs) for water utilities, with solar panels and batteries:

  • Sumy: 100.57 kW and 81.6 kWh
  • Myrhorod: 72.45 kW and 61.44 kWh
  • Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi: 67.8 kW and 56.32 kWh

Experience of Partner Communities in Installing SPPs for Water Supply Companies

During the event, partner community representatives shared their cooperation experiences in installing SPPs. They spoke about the benefits they are already receiving from the alternative energy source, the challenges they have faced, and their future plans.

Myrhorod, Poltava region:

“The SPP already provides 40% autonomy for the water utility, meaning that the facility receives a more stable power supply even during accidents or crisis situations. During a recent accident on the high-voltage grid, the SPP allowed us to continue providing water supply services to 70% of the community’s residents. In addition, the plant’s operation helps to save budget funds: in almost two months, we have saved almost UAH 116,000 on energy bills,” said Sergiy Solomakha, Mayor of Myrhorod.

Sergiy Solomakha, Mayor of Myrhorod

Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Odesa region:

“Since the launch of the SPP, we have generated 21,000 kWh of electricity. This amount helped our community save 139,000 hryvnias on energy bills (32% of total monthly electricity costs). We expect that we will be able to use the saved funds to scale up the project,” said Oleksandr Skalozub, Secretary of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi City Council.

Oleksandr Skalozub, Secretary of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi City Council

Sumy, Sumy Oblast:

“35,000 residents and 11 social infrastructure facilities receive drinking water from the Pryshybske water intake, so a stable electricity supply is important for providing basic services to consumers. The power plant has been in operation since early May 2024. During its operation, 16.64 MWh of electricity was generated, which is 0.6% of the total consumption of the Miskvodokanal utility or 6.2% of the consumption of the Pryshybsk water intake,” said Rima Bykova, Deputy Mayor for the Executive Bodies of Sumy City Council.

“During the recent blackout, which lasted 14 hours, the SPP operation helped the water utility to operate smoothly for two hours. We were able to fill the reservoir and deliver water tanks to hospitals around the city. And the consumers who receive water from this water intake almost did not feel the effects of the power outages,” said Oleksiy Zhukov, Chief Engineer of Sumy Water Utility.

Oleksiy Zhukov, Chief Engineer of Sumy Water Utility

Challenges and Opportunities for SPPs in the Water and Wastewater Sector of Ukraine

Andriy Martyniuk, Executive Director of Ecoclub, mentioned challenges in the regulatory framework that may slow down the process of deploying renewable energy projects in communities. Among them:

  • Lack of economically justified tariffs, which are not always transparent and understandable.
  • Bureaucratic obstacles in approving tariffs.
  • A long and complicated tariff approval process that includes several stages of approval by the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission (NEURC) and local authorities.
  • Lack of clear deadlines for decision-making.
  • Delays in bringing tariffs in line with actual costs.
  • Political dependence in setting tariffs.
  • Insufficient government subsidies and compensation.

To increase the number of such projects in communities, Ecoclub recommends:

  • Limiting political interference in the tariff-setting process.
  • Introducing state support programs for infrastructure renovation.
  • Promoting the conclusion of energy service contracts.
  • Creating a clear regulatory framework for solar power plants and resolving contradictions between regulations.
  • Providing subsidies to water utilities that invest in renewable energy.

“Productive cooperation is possible with municipalities with the intention and capacity to implement sustainable projects. The focus should be on solving urgent problems, such as water supply, which is critical for survival without electricity. This approach should prioritize municipalities that demonstrate a clear intention to implement these projects,” explained Andriy Martynyuk, Executive Director of Ecoclub.

In the near future, Ecoclub plans to develop 10 more technical documents for installing SPPs for water utilities and help build another 30 stations in communities during the year. We are also constantly looking for new opportunities to finance renewable energy projects for the sustainable development of municipalities.

“International organizations are already involved in sustainable recovery in communities. Donor assistance today focuses on increasing resilience through renewable energy. International partners are more willing to help communities that are ready to actively engage in project implementation and expand them in the future,” emphasized Olena Kondratiuk, Project Manager of Ecoclub.

The availability of technical documentation increases the likelihood of attracting funding, so we urge communities to select the facilities that need backup power the most and prepare calculations for them. Ecoclub experts can help develop feasibility studies. If you have a consultation request, please send a letter with a detailed explanation to

Read the notes from the event here.