By the end of 2011, Europe’s largest solar power plant is set to reach a production rate of 100,000 megawatt-hours per year. The plant is in Okhotnykovo in the Crimea and is expected to reduce Ukraine’s carbon dioxide emission by 80,000 tons.
The country’s State Agency for Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation launched its Natural Energy project in 2010, with the aim of producing ‘clean’ electrical energy from wind and solar sources. The expectation is that so-called alternative energy will amount to 30% of the Ukrainian energy market by 2015. This takes on additional significance in light of the fact that Ukraine is the world’s twelfth largest energy market, with an installed capacity of 54 gigawatts as of 2009. Excess power is sold to other countries, including Russia, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Moldova and Hungary.
The Okhotnykovo plant will provide an output of 80 megawatts and is claiming to be the largest in Europe, although some sources cite a plant in Italy with a current output of 84.2 and a recent announcement sees the proposed expansion to 84.5 megawatts of Germany’s Finow Tower plant. Whatever the exact figures, the Crimea will still be home to one of the largest such plants in the world. When complete, the facility will include over 360,000 ground-mounted modules over an area equivalent to 207 football pitches (160 hectares) and will provide energy for approximately 20,000 households. Austria’s Activ Solar was the company responsible for construction; CEO, Kaveh Ertefai says: “A project of this scale means a radical change of solar energy development in Europe, while securing Ukraine’s position as renewable energy provider.” The project consists of four phases, providing 20 megawatts each. The first two are already connected to the grid and construction on the remainder is progressing at an impressive rate of 1 megawatt per day; a speed of which Kaveh Ertefai is rightly proud.
The funding for the project came from the profits the Ukrainian government receives from selling CO2 quotes under auspices of the Kyoto protocol. In 2009, having traded its CO2 emission quota to Japan, Ukraine received almost USD 400million from Japan.
What makes Ukraine such an ideal location for such a power plant is the amount of solar radiation – anywhere between 800 to 1450 watt/m² per year, giving Ukraine the opportunity to be a true world leader in solar energy production.
5TH SEPTEMBER 2011 Dave Foxall