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Rada restores tariffs for small solar producers

The Verkhovna Rada on July 11 voted to restore renewable energy tariffs to small solar energy producers who have photovoltaic panels on the ground.

Renewable tariffs are subsidies paid to those who produce renewable energy and feed it into the grid. The Rada in April banned small producers from receiving these tariffs, unless their solar energy came from panels mounted on rooftops or building facades. This affected all solar producers with less than 50 kilowatts of capacity, including households. 

The restriction was introduced as a last-minute amendment to the so-called “green auction” law, which established an auction system for large renewable energy producers to bid for power purchase agreements with the government. 

Ihor Nasalyk, the minister of energy and coal industry was quoted as saying that if the small producers were allowed to keep the feed-in tariff, Ukrainian energy costs would go up. Investigation by the publication Ekonomichna Pravda showed that this was false, as small solar producers account for less than one percent of the amount that energy consumers pay for electricity.

Opponents of domestic solar producers also stated that a large amount of small-scale solar producers would lead to large scale imbalances in the network. However, little work has been done to address the massive imbalances that can be introduced by large-scale solar installations, which have much more capacity than all small-scale producers. 

Critics of the restriction had said that it benefits oligarchs with renewable energy assets at the expense of everyday Ukrainians. 

The restriction was reversed when legislation 10357 passed in the Rada on July 11. The legislation was introduced by lawmakers Lev Pidlisetsky, Alexander Dombrovsky, Olga Belkova, and Alexei Ryabchin. It guarantees a feed-in tariff for all ground-based solar installations with a capacity of up to 30 kilowatts. 

President Volodymyr Zelensky tried to introduce similar legislation in June. 

“This legislation removes the technical inconsistencies, that is to say, restrictions and allows households to build small solar plants on the ground,” the head of the parliamentary committee on the fuel-energy complex, Oleksandr Dombrovsky was quoted as saying during the session. 

Unlike in many European countries, Ukraine’s renewable energy industry is dominated by large players. Small-scale producers have had about 12 percent of the market as of the start of the year.