By Swann Bigot, legal expert and consultant in international affairs, for Eurasia Network – Update : April 20, 2019 – First version : February 18, 2019

Wind turbines in fields, May 2017 - Photo credit S. BIGOT

Wind turbines in fields, May 2017 – Photo credit : Swann Bigot

Ukraine has been reforming its energy sector since 2010 by modernizing infrastructure and supporting the development of renewable energy capacities across its territory in order to increase the national energy independence. Wind farms, solar power plants and biogas power plants are built with Ukrainian or foreign investments, using the incentives brought by the new legislation. New renewable generation capacities must help to cover the energy needs of a population reaching 44.2 million inhabitants in 2017.

The country joined the European Energy Community in February 2011 and set in October 2014 the goal to increase renewable energy share in the national power mix to 11% by 2020 while the Energy Strategy of Ukraine until 2035, adopted in 2017, set the target of 25% of renewable energy share by 2035.

Ukraine ranked 18th in the Climate Change Performance Index 2019, published by the NGO Germanwatch. This is a better result than in 2018 when it ranked 20th. The country’s assessment is medium among the high performing states in Europe such as Sweden (4th rank), Norway (12th rank) and Finland (13th rank). Medium performing states are France (21st rank), Germany (27th rank) or Romania (20th rank).

The state’s performance assessment is based on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, the level of renewable energy development, the level of electricity consumption, the total primary energy reserves and the overall foreign and domestic climate change policy.

Read also : Ukraine added 810 MW of renewable energy capacities in 2018

Ukraine is now a new market for renewable energy, with its infrastructure, its industrial assets and its well trained workforce, all these strengths raising the interest of investors. Energy companies or public organizations from Germany, Norway, Finland, France and Canada therefore seized this opportunity and decided to take part in the Ukrainian energy transformation.

Germany will give Ukraine EUR 35 million for its climate policy

Within the framework of the International Climate Initiative, the German Federal Environment Ministry has agreed in December 2018 with the Ukrainian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to provide financial assistance worth 35 million euros in four priority areas, announced the Ukrainian Minister Ostap Semerak.

The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources successfully completed the negotiation process with the German Federal Ministry for the provision of financial assistance worth EUR 35 million. This is a great achievement and a challenge for the whole ecological community of Ukraine, which will contribute to lead the national economy towards green growth”, said Ostap Semerak.

The projects to be funded must implement the targets of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, considering the nationally-defined contributions (NDCs) and should take into account the international cooperation in the context of counteracting climate change in the Black Sea region and promoting renewable energy, including the use of biomass energy to replace fossil sources of energy.

The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Environment Ministry has been financing more than 600 climate and biodiversity projects so far in developing and newly industrialized countries since 2008.

The main focus of further cooperation between Germany and Ukraine is the introduction of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which are at the heart of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the provisions of the Strategic Plan for the Implementation of the International Convention on Biological Diversity, opened for signature in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro and entered into force in December 1993.

Read also : The Danish Vestas and Ukrainian DTEK build a 100 MW wind farm near Sea of Azov

Under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement Ukraine is committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

In this context, the challenge for Germany and Ukraine is to have a more systematic approach to individual financing projects for companies and the public sector in such a way that one project enhances the results of another. Collection of project proposals has already begun in accordance with the identified priorities.

Bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and Germany within the framework of the International Climate Initiative began in 2008. Over the years, Ukraine became one of the key partners of the Initiative, having launched 14 projects, while 10 of them with a total budget of EUR 19 million euros have already been successfully completed.

But Germany is not the only country working with Ukraine in its energy transformation. Scandinavian countries also play a significant role.

Finland and Ukraine will jointly fund renewable energy

Finland and Ukraine joined their resources and set up in September 2018 a Joint Trust Fund to develop renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, reported an official press release.

The purpose of this Joint Trust Fund is to promote bilateral cooperation between Finland and Ukraine and to identify opportunities for consulting and investment projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, waste-to-energy generation, power and heat generation and intelligent energy systems.

Each project selected through procurement must be tied to Finland, in the form of consulting, material or investment, amounting to at least 30% of the total cost of the project to be implemented in Ukraine.

The Joint Trust Fund is primarily financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and is managed by NEFCO, an international financial institution founded in 1990 by the five Nordic countries to fund green investment projects, mainly in Eastern Europe.

The Ukrainian State Agency for Energy Efficiency signed an agreement with NEFCO over the creation of the Trust Fund while the Finnish Government has allocated EUR 6 million to finance its work for the five coming years.

The coordinator of the Joint Trust Fund in Ukraine will be the Ukrainian State Agency of Energy Efficiency.

Read also : A 200 MW wind farm to be built in Southern Ukraine

Besides, the company Finnish Consulting Group (FCG) was involved with the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) to manage and coordinate practical work related to the development, evaluation and implementation of projects.

The Finnish-Ukrainian Trust Fund is the result of fruitful cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Ukrainian State Agency of Energy Efficiency, initiated by the signature of the related Memorandum in January 2017 during the state visit of the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Finland” explained Kostyantin Yuriyovych Gura, advisor to the Head of the Ukrainian State Agency of Energy Efficiency, during its presentation at a workshop on the development of clean energy based on the experience of Scandinavian states.

The Joint Trust Fund will help both Ukrainian municipalities and developers to carry out feasibility studies for energy efficiency and clean energy projects in Ukraine. It will also support the development of legislation and implementation of pilot projects.

We are convinced that the Trust Fund will become fully operational in 2019. Working together on green projects will help to strengthen the partnership, establish cooperation between our companies and reduce energy dependence” concluded Kostyantin Yuriyovych Gura.

Along with Germany and Finland, Norway also helps Ukraine in its transition towards renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Norway supports investments in Ukrainian renewable energy

The Scandinavian state aims at deepening its cooperation with Ukraine in renewable energy, explained in January Sergey Savchuk, Head of the Ukrainian State Agency of Energy Efficiency.

This Ukrainian top civil servant who worked on energy issues within different governments took part in the discussion with the Norwegian businessmen about the potential of economic cooperation between the two countries, as well as current and prospective investment projects, including in renewable energy. The Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman and the Ambassador of Norway to Ukraine Ole Terje Horpestad headed the meeting held in January 2019.

The Ukrainian Prime Minister noted that Norway is a reliable partner of Ukraine, while Norwegian companies are among the best investors, “thanks to their modern technologies and high standards of doing business”.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy stand among the priority areas of the partnership between Ukraine and Norway.

Cooperation with Norway, a country which has now a significant renewable share in its national energy mix, will be a valuable contribution to the achievement of Ukraine’s target of 25% of clean energy in 2035.

Read also : A Norwegian company to build 83 MW of solar power in Ukraine by 2019

Indeed, according to the Energy Strategy of Ukraine until 2035, adopted in 2017, the country must reach a renewable energy share of 11% by 2020 and 25% by 2035.

More than 50 Norwegian companies already work in Ukraine, including in the renewable energy sector. The expected volume of Norwegian investments in this area amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars, revealed the press release of the Ukrainian State Agency for Energy Efficiency.

One of the most ambitious investors is the Norwegian company NBT AS which plans to take part in the construction of a 250 MW wind power plant in the Kherson oblast. The total volume of investments would amount to EUR 370 million.

Indeed, the Norwegian NBT bought the Ukrainian company Syvashenergoprom LLC in April 2018 with the goal to build a large wind farm with a capacity of 250 MW in the Kherson oblast, in Southern Ukraine, revealed the corporate communication. Syvashenergoprom LLC already operates in this region the 3 MW Syvash wind farm, launched in 2012 and located in the Chaplynka district. This small wind power plant is made of 18 wind turbines (two 600 kW and sixteen 100 kW turbines).

The construction agreement was signed on September 6, 2018 in the palace of the Ukrainian presidential administration. The President Petro Poroshenko and the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide attended the signature ceremony related to this international investment worth almost USD 450 million which is expected to provide the half of the electricity needs of the Kherson oblast.

Wind turbine, June 2018 - Photo credit S.Bigot

Wind turbines, June 2018 – Photo credit : Swann Bigot

By the end of 2019 along the northern shore of Lake Sivash, 64 wind turbines with a total capacity of 250 MW will generate electricity, supplying the local power grid.

The National Investment Council of Ukraine then clarified that the Norwegian NBT will invest about USD 400 million in the project. The EPC contractor is the company PowerChina Fujian Engineering and the supplier of wind turbines is the German Nordex.

In April 2018, NBT acquired the Ukrainian company Syvashenergoprom LLC, servicing a 3 MW wind farm and developing another wind power project with a capacity amounting to 250-330 MW ; NBT also signed several contracts on the development of other projects in the Ukrainian wind power industry and continues to look for new opportunities of development of this market”, reported the corporate press release.

This project must upgrade this 3 MW wind farm to a 250 MW capacity and would be funded by a EUR 150 million loan granted in November 2018 by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to a Ukrainian subsidiary of the Norwegian NBT AS.

The Kherson Regional State Administration (RSA) transferred in 2006 to Syvashenergoprom LLC the 1,320 hectares of land where is located the unachieved Syvash wind farm, through a concession until 2055. A power grid connection agreement with the state-owned Ukrenergo was also secured.

In 2011, Sivashenergoprom LLC signed a lease agreement for land plots of 12 hectares under the conceded wind farm and 1,300 hectares for the construction of new wind power and solar power capacities.

In May 2018 the Norwegian NBT opened an office in Kiev to support the development of its renewable energy projects in Ukraine.

Ukrainian legislation supports renewable energy

The Ukrainian Parliament approved in September 2018 a bill which simplified the requirements for the examination of construction of wind power projects. This new law aims at facilitating the activities of energy companies and investors when they carry out construction of new generation capacities.

One of the authors of the bill was the Deputy Maxim Efimov, the owner of Fuhrländer Windtechnology LLC, a manufacturer of wind power equipment founded in October 2010 and based in Kramatorsk, in Eastern Ukraine. This company produced the first Ukrainian made 3.2 MW wind turbine in 2017 and has built since 2010 seven wind farms in Ukraine and one wind power plant in Kazakhstan. Fuhrländer Windtechnology LLC planned to deliver 17 wind turbines for Ukrainian wind farms in 2018, reported the Interfax press agency in March 2018.

A new auction system for renewable energy projects

These foreign funds and investments in Ukrainian renewable energy are coming as the country voted a new legislation introducing an auction system for such projects.

Indeed, the draft bill on the transition to an auction system from January 1, 2020 regarding renewable electricity generation was approved by the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in its first reading on December 20, 2018.

It is also important that the widespread introduction of sustainable projects will ensure energy decentralization in the country, which is the basis for economically strong, energy independent and prosperous Ukrainian communities” commented Sergey Savchuk, Head of the State Agency for Energy efficiency.

The bill reforming the auction system for renewable energy projects was definitively adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament on April 20, 2019. The text received the support of 251 deputies.

Read also : Biogas power in Ukraine grew by 35% in 2018

The new auction system is expected to form a transparent and competitive energy market in the country. This transition is supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which funds through loans several renewable energy projects in Ukraine.

The new auction system introduces a 25% reduction in the green tariff for solar power plants in 2020 with a further decrease of 2.5% annually.

Green tariff for wind farms is to decrease by 10% in 2020 and 1.5% annually over the next three years, reported Interfax press agency.

For domestic solar power plants with a capacity of up to 50 kW, the green tariff will decrease by 10% in 2020. 

The green tariff was introduced in Ukraine in 2009 and is so far one of the highest in the world, which makes investment in Ukrainian renewable energy very attractive for private investors. This feed-in tariff is granted to all the renewable energy capacities, such as wind, solar, biomass, biogas, hydropower and geothermal energy and must operate until January 1, 2030.

This new law aims at ensuring the decrease of the cost of electricity from renewable energy, transparent and competitive development of new capacities and stability in the financing of green energy projects.

A EUR 155 million deal signed for a 250 MW wind farm

A EUR 155 million financing agreement was signed by the Norwegian NBT, the French Total Eren and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development over the 250 MW Syvash wind farm project. The signature took place on January 23, 2019 at a special meeting during the Davos World Economic Forum. The Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the Head of the EBRD Suma Chakrabarti attended the signature ceremony, held in the Ukrainian House before a meeting of the Ukraine’s National Investment Council.

This ambitious onshore wind power project has been developed by Norwegian NBT together with the Total Eren, a subsidiary of French Total SA. The Syvash wind farm must represent at its full capacity a EUR 370 million total investment. The 250 MW wind power plant will consist of 64 wind turbines and will be located on 1,320 hectares of land in in the Kherson oblast. Once completed, the wind farm will be the largest renewable energy project of Ukraine.

Now the largest Ukrainian facility is the Botievskaya 200 MW wind power plant, also known as the Botievo wind farm, launched by the energy company DTEK in 2012 and achieved in 2014. This large wind farm reduces CO2 emissions by 600 thousand tons per year.

Wind turbines in fields, May 2017 - Photo credit S. BIGOT 2

A wind turbine in fields, May 2017 – Photo credit : Swann Bigot

An A/B loan of up to EUR 155 million has been raised for the construction of the initial 133 MW phase of the Syvash wind farm. This A/B loan will consist of a EUR 75 million EBRD loan, while B-Loans of up to EUR 75 million will be provided jointly by the Green for Growth Fund based in Luxemburg (GGF) and the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO). A parallel loan of EUR 5 million will be provided by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), reported the press release of Total Eren.

Read also : US and Lithuanian investors to build 192 MW of wind power in Ukraine

Earlier the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that the French Total Eren was entering the Ukraine’s energy market as a new strategic investor.

The Head of the EBRD added that : “The arrival in Ukraine of the Norwegian NBT and the French Total shows that the country is now the second largest European market. NBT will have even more projects, I am sure of it. Foreign investors are returning to Ukraine.

The EBRD approved on November 28, 2018 the organization of a EUR 150 million loan to Syvashenergoprom LLC (based in the Kherson oblast, subsidiary of the Norwegian NBT) for the construction of a 250 MW wind power plant on the Black seashore.

But the Norwegian NBT has a more ambitious plan :

The Norwegian company NBT has enough potential to build additional 700-800 MW of wind power capacity in Ukraine […] The 250 MW wind power plant “Syvash” is just the beginning, because over the next two to three years we are planning new significant investments in a series of wind power projects in Ukraine”, said Joar Viken, CEO of NBT, at a meeting of the National Council in Davos on January 23, 2019, revealed Interfax press agency.

NBT AS would be planning to build another wind farm in Ukraine, reported the same source. The construction of a 740 MW wind farm could start in the Zaporizhia oblast in the next 6-9 months. Total investment would amount to EUR 1.2 billion, reported in January the Ukrainian State Agency for Energy efficiency, after an official meeting with representatives of Norwegian business circles. Evaluation of EPC contractors and suppliers of wind turbines that will be involved in the project would be underway. An agreement would have been signed during the Davos Forum.

The CEO of NBT also noted that the success of the Syvash project in attracting international financial institutions will raise the interest of other private investors and international financial organizations.

According to the framework agreement, the Syvash wind farm project will be funded by a group of eight foreign lenders, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO). At the next stages of the project, additional financing from foreign funds specializing in similar energy projects is also expected, reported the Interfax press agency.

The volume of investments stipulated by this agreement is about USD 450 million.

The funds were raised with the assistance of the American investment bank J.P.Morgan, which acted as financial advisor to the Norwegian NBT. The Ukrainian legal adviser to NBT is the law firm Integrites, based in Kiev while advisory assistance was also provided by the office of the National Investment Council.

In Ukraine, the boom of alternative energy continues. For 2018, three times more of renewable energy capacities was commissioned than in 2017 – more than 800 MW.” said Yulia Kovaliv from the National Investment Council.

The National Investment Council is a consultative and advisory government institution under the President of Ukraine, which includes representatives of the Ukrainian government and more than 20 large international companies. The office of the National Advisory Board is a non-governmental organization, which was founded in early 2017 and serves as a platform for dialogue between government agencies, Ukrainian business and international investors.

The construction of the Sivash wind farm opens the possibility of delivering up to 600 MW of power to the local power grid, since 220 kV and 330 kV transmission lines pass directly along the land where is located the facility. There is also nearby the substation of the plant Crimean Titan, the largest producer of titanium dioxide in Eastern Europe.

NBT AS today owns a 49% stake in the Linxi 100 MW wind farm and a 33% stake in the Baicheng 49.5 MW wind farm, both located in China, and also develops with a local partner two wind power projects in Thailand with a 60 MW capacity each. The Norwegian company also booked land for a future wind farm in Vietnam and is looking for attractive opportunities in Albania. The company has offices in Oslo, Limassol, Beijing, Karachi and Kiev.

Representatives of business and international organizations, in particular from Scatec Solar, AICE Hydro, DNV-GL, Norsk Solar, Pro Energy, and others took part in the discussion of potential joint projects in renewable energy during the official meeting organized on January 16 with the Ukrainian State Agency for Energy efficiency. The meeting was headed by the Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and the Norwegian Ambassador.

These discussions took place before the official visit of the Ukrainian Prime Minister to the Kingdom of Norway on January 28, where a bilateral business forum was held in Oslo, which resulted in the signature of contracts worth USD 1.5 billion. The Ukrainian Prime Minister also said a joint statement with the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg about the intensification of cooperation in the energy sector, especially in the context of the development of renewable energy, nuclear safety and energy efficiency.

Norwegian Scatec and Norsk invest in Ukrainian solar

Investments of the Norwegian Scatec Solar in the construction of a 150 MW solar power plant in the Mykolaiv oblast will amount to EUR 180 million, reported the Interfax press agency. The agreement was signed during the Ukrainian-Norwegian business forum in Oslo on January 28. During this event, Scatec Solar signed with the Ukrainian SM Invest & Construction an agreement on the purchase of the relevant solar power project.

Scatec Solar already signed in July 2018 an agreement with Rengy Development, an Ukrainian company based in Kiev, over the joint construction of 47 MW solar power plant in the Mykolaiv oblast, with a global investment worth EUR 52 million. The Norwegian company owns 51% of this project, which is 70% financed in equal shares by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB), according to the financial agreement reached in December 2018. Construction then began and should be completed by the end of 2019, followed by the launch of the commercial operation of the solar farm.

This 47 MW solar power project will be realised under the Ukrainian 10-year Feed-in-Tariff scheme and are expected to produce about 58 GWh of electricity per year. Public land will be leased for an extended time-period and the plants are expected to deliver power also beyond the Feed-in-tariff period.

In addition Scatec solar will build a 30 MW solar farm in Cherkasy oblast, for a global investment worth EUR 35 million.

Therefore, the Norwegian company Scatec solar has currently 77 MW of solar power under construction in Ukraine according to its fourth quarter 2018 report. Coming projects in the country must cover additional 174 MW of solar power.

In Ukraine, Scatec Solar is developing projects totalling 163 MW in addition to the 251 MW in project backlog and under construction. Ukraine is committed to integrate with the EU energy system with ongoing electricity market reforms and aiming to increase its energy independence with a target of 11% renewables by 2020 and 25% by 2035.

In addition, the company Norsk Solar AS during the business forum signed a memorandum on the construction of solar power capacities in the Kiev oblast for a total investment worth EUR 9.2 million with Pro-Energy LLC, owned and managed by Ruslan Delidon, revealed the Interfax press agency.

Canadian investors look at Ukraine

Lastly, the company TIU Canada Ltd acquired last January two construction projects of solar power plants in the Odessa oblast with a total capacity of 32.4 MW. This is the third purchase of TIU Canada since it began operations in Ukraine in 2017. The Canadian company, owned by the investment company Refraction Asset Management (Calgary, Canada), has been operating a 10.7 MW solar farm in the city Nikopol since July 2018 in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast and is now building 13.5 MW of solar power in the Mykolayiv oblast.

All these projects and new renewable energy capacities confirm that Ukraine is now an attracting land for investors. The country is carrying out reforms to adapt its legislation and regulation to Western standards and efficiently modernize its energy infrastructure. International meetings such as the Davos economic forum or bilateral dialogues with European countries help advancing the national energy policy.

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