Ukraine – a promising future when it comes to wind power

Since the Orange Revolution which turned the political tide of the country in 2004, Ukraine – the name means ‘borderland’ – has taken steps closer to the European Union.

Today, one of the most significant areas of cooperation between the EU and Ukraine is in the field of energy: in February 2005 an EU-Ukraine Action Plan was agreed focusing on the progressive integration of the Ukrainian energy market with that of the EU.

While nuclear safety and the integration of electricity and gas markets are key points of the agreement, so too is energy security and, following a further agreement reached in 2008, the aim of promoting renewable energies within Ukraine.

Moreover, the country looks set to join the European Energy Community which would oblige it to take on renewable energy targets, as in the EU today, for increasing the share of renewable energy in the overall supply.

At the end of 2009 the country had a total of 94 MW of wind farm capacity installed onshore, with no wind turbines offshore. But with the excellent wind resources the country possesses there is much potential for expansion.

Land surrounding the Black Sea, in particular the Crimea and on the eastern Ukrainian shores of the Black Sea, is frequently swept by strong winds. In addition, much of the country is sparsely populated, making it easier for wind farm installations.

What is more, Ukraine has a very favourable feed-in tariff for wind power standing at €110 per MW/h for onshore wind turbines. The tariff is available for wind turbines of a 2 MW capacity or above, with lower tariffs for smaller wind turbines.

However, occasional political and economic instability in Ukraine has created some uncertainty for investors, which is likely to be why big investments in wind power are yet to make their way to the country.

Ukraine also possesses a sturdy electricity infrastructure and is set to join the ‘European Synchronous Zone’; that is, the power generation zone of continental Europe.

The country currently imports most of its energy supplies – especially oil and natural gas – with indigenous coal meeting a significant chunk of its energy needs. It is, to a large extent, dependent on Russia – 25% of the natural gas in Ukraine comes from within its national boundary, but 35% comes from Russia and the remaining 40% from Central Asia via transit routes controlled by Russia.

As the winter gas crises between Russia and Ukraine – which left many people in the cold – demonstrate, Ukraine, like the EU countries which were severely affected by the gas squeeze, needs to boost its energy security by investing in renewable energy produced within its borders.