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Солнечная электростанция для фермеров: прибыльный бизнес или недешевая игрушка?

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Solar power-station: profitable business or expensive toy?

5-6 years ago only few people in Ukraine were aquainted with solar energy. It was such popular opinion, that solar power-stations are some very incredibly expensive and ineffective toys. However nowadays almost everybody knows about solar power-stations due to several reasons. First of all, rapid development of photo-electric industry resulted in sharp decline of prime price for solar systems and solar electric power generation as the whole. During last 5 years cost of building of a solar power-station decreased more than 50%.

On the other hand, increased gas prices and electric power breakdowns motivated many people to search for alternative sources of energy supply and energetic independence. Thirdly, for those, who wants to get additional profit, this is a good possibility to have passive profits, that does not require everyday participation in operating activity. Besides Ukraine has good geographical location for work of solar power-stations, because level of solar generation is considerably higher, than in Germany, that is the leader of solar energy generation in Europe.

What is starting point of the story? Someone traveled to foreign countries and made an observation that solar power-stations successfully work in European countries, then decided to build his own object in Ukraine, then someone saw this miracle in neighbour’s  household and was able to estimate the efficiency of station’s work, and someone was looking for uninterruptible power supply. But nowadays there is active demand on the market, solar power-stations gain their popularity among Ukrainian farmers.

Why solar energy gains such popularity among farmers today? Will investments in solar energy be able to assure trouble-free future for Ukrainian farmers?

Conducting market analysis, we came to the conclusion, that there are some valid points :

  1. Agricultural market experience some changes caused by external and internal factors. Just to decrease these risks proprietors of agricultural farms consider building of solar power-stations as reliable method to invest money and to diversify their business.
  2. Speculating about their pensions, Ukrainian farmers have not very strong hope on state pension system, and build their future for themselves. In fact solar power-station is an asset, that delivers profit during 25-30 years.
  3. Solar power-stations work in fully automatic mode, they do not require service expenses, and consequently, do not distract proprietors from basic business activity.
  4. Solar power-station is a wonderful alternative to bank deposit. In fact, as we can see, a bank can become bankrupt at any moment, and how to refund your deposit then? Many people prefer to invest money in something real, that will work and bring profits, despite of political and economical situation.
  5. Solar power-station is an effective method to save money from inflation, because when you build a solar power-station, you invest money in hryvnia currency, and profits from sales of electric power are pegged to euro currency.
  6. Solar power-stations are one of the most flexible systems of energy supply : it is possible either to sell electric power or to use it for own needs. You can use electric power instantly or accumulate it for later use during breakdown periods of electric power absence, making your way to be to energy independent.
  7. Acceptance of new law on a "green" tariff became additional stimulant factor, due to that attractiveness of solar power-stations in Ukraine lifted up to completely new level.

 

Let’s explore in more detailed way, what prospects are now opened for farmers by new "green" tariff.

If a surface solar power-station is built in 2015, generated electric power can be sold for 0,17 euros per each kW*h, and in case of roof power-station construction value of "green" tariff makes even 0,18 euros. So making one-time investment for construction of a solar power-station, it is possible to get annual profit up to 2030, that is formalized by the "On electrical energy" law of Ukraine. Before this new law was implemented, Ukrainian equipment use was the obligatory condition at building works of solar power-stations, but nowadays anyone can use any type of equipment or component parts,  whatever is economically more expedient. In order to estimate efficiency of building of this project, it is enough to look at figures. This is real calculation example for 1 MW surface solar power-station in Central Ukraine.

 

Thus, we can get the following figures. If initial investments are 1,3 million euro, then recoupment time of the station makes less than 7 years with further profit accumulation, that will make 161 thousand euro currency annually, or 1,454 million euro during 9 years. After 01.01.2030 the “green” tariff will not be actual anymore, but solar power-station will continue to work and to provide necessary electric power. Because operational term of a station makes 25-30 years, then from years 2015 to 2030 a solar power-station brings "green" tariff profits, and later from 2030 to 2045 provides free electric power for a farm. If we count up, how much money will be saved on electric power bills every year, then with 1 012 374,4 kW*h of annual generation multiplied by the current tariff on electric power  (1,5 hrn. per 1 kW/hour), we will calculate 1,517 million hrn of annual savings. And if we take into account price advance dynamics on electric power during the last few years (see diagram attached), then the economy of a solar power-station building  looks as much more interesting project.

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As a rule, during installation works on engineering systems designers take into account both primary investments and cost of operating charges. There is a question, what sum of additional charges you may need to provide a solar power-station operations? Experience of work in in the Ukrainian climatic conditions shows, that expenses are minimal, because dirt is washed off from panels by rains, and snow goes down by itself, because solar modules are even overheated during operation time. During mounting works for surface stations in large farmer lands there is only one question emerges: how to remove parasitic vegetation in spaces between panel rows, because plants can shade solar modules. In this case there is a bunch of methods: 1. cover the area with cement layer; 2. To mow green plant mass periodically; 3. Finally, as many farmers do, simply pasture birds that eat this grass out. It will be both effective maintenance of solar modules, and food for a cattle.

Now many solar power-stations of both large and small size are built in Ukraine. Experience shows that their users periodically receive profits from sale of electric power by "green" tariff, both from ground and from roof-based stations, obligatory payment by that tariff is assured by the law of Ukraine. it is possible to enquire about all objects, entitled to work by the green tariff,  on NERC web-site.

To find out what station type is better to install, you may need to determine your aims for start . The network surface stations are the best method to sell electric power on "green" tariff. the roof-based station will be a good choice for reserve self-consumption, that will provide electric power in case if any irregularities or breakdowns of electric power in general grid will occur.

One of first farm proprietors, who opened solar energy for himself, is Sergey Omelyanenko from Ivanivka village, Novoukrains’ky district, Kirovohrad oblast’. Sergey Borisovich installed stationary solar power-station with 1,3 MW power for his farm on "green" tariff. He successfully sells solar electric power, and taking into account present economic situation in Ukraine, he already returned hryvnya investments he made to construct the station.

Other example of solar power-station, installed on a farm, is tracker-type station in Kirovohrad oblast’. It is the first Ukrainian power-station, that follows after the sun like a sunflower to provide optimal angle of sunbeams on a solar module’s surface. Due to trackers the maximal possible generation of solar energy is reached, that increases performance indexes of a stationary station by more than 30%. The primary purpose of building of this station was a necessity to provide uninterruptable work of equipment at two granaries under hard conditions of regular disconnections of electric power from general grid. The pecularity of this enterprise’s work is that without electric power during harvesting period potential losses can be very large. Counting up possible losses and cost of investments, farmers made the decision to install a solar power-station. Additionally such solar power-station has feature of electric power accumulation in storage batteries for further use at night or during decreased luminosity periods.

Installation of roof-based stations is effective as a reserve power supply option. Beside that, after construction of a roof-based solar power-station in 2015 it is possible to get maximal rate on "green" tariff, namely 0,18 euro per each kW*h. Profits from installation of a 100 kW roof-based station (it takes approximately 1260 sq.m of roof area) with annual generation at approx. 108 000 kW*h in 2015 will make 19,440 thousand euro annually.

This brings up the question, who really does build such solar stations and whom you need to contact?  It is quite possible to distinguish Rentecno company among experts at Ukrainian market of solar energy. The company works at the market of solar energy of Ukraine more than 5 years. During this time Rentechno built plenty of solar power-stations that already generated more than 50 thousand MW*h of electric power. Rentechno has a bunch of solutions, developed specifically for farming industry; the company installed first Ukrainian tracker power-station, it has great experience in implementation of innovative projects.

The chief executive officer of Rentechno company shared some information about current situation at the market of solar energy:

 

What interesting projects is Rentechno engaged in now?

- Our company is focused on several directions in scope of alternative energy. During last few years the lion's share of time is occupied by planning and building of solar power-stations. Now we are developing few projects of roof-based solar power-stations, some of them are planned for connection to the general network to sale electric power on "green" tariff, and another part is intended for proprietor’s own use of produced electric power. The question is mainly about small solar stations with 100-250 kW of power. In addition, at the beginning of 2016 we plan to build a surface solar power-station of megawatt power capacity class, plus we examine possibility to use monaxonic tracker steelwork constructions.

 

What are prospects of development for solar power-stations in farming sector?

-          Our previous experience showed that solar energy projects are popular among companies and investors with basic activity in agricultural business. And taking into account sutuation on the market, interest not only does not fades out , but vice versa, yet more increases every year. I am sure, that in nearest 2-3 years many new examples of solar power-stations use will appear in agricultural sector of Ukraine.

 

Why perspective clients contact exactly Rentechno company?

- Because our company is one of those few, who has practical experience of "turn-key" building of such objects and also undertakes not only technical issues, but also accompanies a client during all formal stages of a project, including "green" tariff authorisation. Except it, Rentechno works as general contractor, we are not just a salesmen of some equipment or simple lobbyist of certain brands. That’s why people contact Rentechno: because our clients can always be sure that we defend their interests and maximally optimize all project’s components according to clients profit.   So we can see, that market of solar energy is one of most perspective market for development in Ukraine. It is the possibility to provide your household with trouble-free electric power supply, regardless of any political and economic situations. It is also a good method to keep and to gain money from sale of electric power on "green" tariff. Active growth of solar power-stations constructions in Ukraine makes the best proof of that. This year is most favorable to get "green" tariff and to start your own energy independence.

 

Publication is based on the article, released in Farmer of Ukraine annals, №11-12, June 2015


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