EBRD invests in Ukrainian wind

Although you won’t remember, in March 2011, I told you about Ukraine’s first wind farm.  Yes I know it was a very short post, but as it said, it was a start.

Well since then alternative energy has progressed somewhat in Ukraine.  Solar, hydroelectric bio-fuelled  CHPs and wind.  A lot of investment is going into alternative energy production, although not enough to prevent the next generation of civil nuclear power facilities being built.

In fact a lot of money is going into energy in Ukraine, be it alternative, energy efficiency, next generation nuclear, and domestic oil and gas exploration and production as well as Shell and Chevron yesterday being confirmed as tender winners for shale extraction in the west and east of Ukraine.

Of course there are environmental and ecological concerns no matter how energy is produced.  5000 exploratory wells anticipated between Shell and Chevron looking for shale gas, there is a major concern over huge areas of prime agricultural land being used for bio-fuel production at great cost to the soil,  damage to ecosystems with hydroelectric production, flora and fauna damage via huge solar farms spreading across acres of land etc.

Quite simply there is no such thing a zero impact energy production any which way it is produced.  Anybody who says otherwise is a liar.  Even the component parts used to create alternative energy systems are manufactured using conventional energy in buildings constructed by and using materials creating with, conventional energy.  They all have a massive energy legacy to repay prior to actually being beneficial to the planet.

If that sounds like I know what I am talking about it is because I do.  I am a qualified civil engineer and have written numerous ISO 14001 environmental policies, environmental risk management programmes and audit procedures.

Anyway, back to Ukrainian alternative energy, and in particular - wind.

There is no doubt that Ukraine has huge potential in alternative energy production.  Anybody who doubts that need simply follow the projects and acquisitions of DTEK, a company owned by the richest man in Ukraine, Rinat Akhmetov.  Whilst he is best known for being an oligarch whose riches comes from metal production and also being the owner of Shakhtar Donetsk FC, only the willfully blind would not have noticed his serious investments into all areas of energy production over the past 3 or 4 years.  Alternative energy is no exception when it comes to Mr Akhmetov’s energy investment portfolio.

It is therefore no surprise to find that the EBRD in conjunction with the EU’s Clean Technology Fund have decided to pour Euro 9.5 million and Euro 3.8 million respectively (Euro 13.3 million in total) into a Ukrainian/Italian company called Eco-Optima.  The loan is over a 10 year period and payable in two tranches.

Eco-Optima intend to build a wind farm in Starry Sambir (near Lviv) that will consist of 5 wind turbines with an anticipated total annual production of 25.5 GWh.  That is enough for just over 10,000 homes annual useage by my rough calculation, and also reduce carbon emissions by approximately 30,000 per year (in comparison to non-nuclear conventional energy production if we discount any energy legacy involved in production of the technology).

Maybe more encouragingly than anything I have written so far though, is that it is, to my knowledge, the first EBRD investment into Ukrainian wind - ever - which is a positive thing in and of itself!