The issue with the disconnection of the solar power plant (SPP) of the Canadian investor TIU Canada in Nikopol located on the territory of the Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant (NFP) from the power grid lies in the plane of a business dispute, Executive Director of the Solar Energy Association of Ukraine Artem Semenyshyn has said.
“This issue lies on the plane of a business dispute. The two companies have agreed on the joint use of the substation. One is as a producer of electricity, the other is as a consumer,” he said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Friday.
At the same time, Semenyshyn said: “Indeed, it is very bad when we lose the already built “green” generation facilities, which are now idle and do not increase the share of clean electricity.”
In addition, he drew attention to the presence of several examples of how already built stations in Ukraine, due to problems with connecting to the power grids, cannot start work for a long time. “We urge the government to create a commission that would consider each case separately and contribute to the solution of the issue,” the director of the association said, stressing that this is a matter of the state’s image before both foreign and domestic investors.
“It will be very “interesting” if Ukraine starts reporting that it is reducing the share of “green” generation due to disconnections,” the head of the association said, expressing his concern.
As reported, TIU Canada, an investor in the field of solar energy, owned by Refraction Asset Management (Calgary, Canada), filed a lawsuit against the NFP due to the disconnection of its 10.5 MW SPP from the power grid in March 2020.
TIU Canada, a leading solar energy producer in Ukraine, has sued the Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant (NFZ) for illegally disconnecting its 10.5 MW solar station from the electricity grid. Despite Ukrainian energy laws that prevent electricity producers from being disconnected from the energy grid without their permission, the NFZ illegally cut TIU Canada’s connection on March 1, 2020. TIU Canada is seeking an immediate reconnection to the electricity grid and plans to hold the NFZ and its shareholders fully accountable under the laws of both Ukraine and Canada. The main shareholders of the Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant are Igor Kolomoyskyi, Gennadiy Bogolyubov, and Viktor Pinchuk.
The Nikopol solar station owned by TIU Canada is on land leased long term from the city of Nikopol, however, entry to the facility is through a gate controlled by the NFZ. The solar plant connects to a substation on the grounds of the NFZ and later connects directly to the regional electricity transporter DTEK Dnipro Grids JSC. On December 23, 2019, TIU Canada received a letter from the General Director of the NFZ, that they would be disconnecting the TIU Canada connection to DTEK Dnipro Grids JSC via the substation on the grounds of the NFZ in order to make ‘repairs.’ The NFZ stated that they would begin the repairs after February 29, 2020, and TIU Canada immediately contacted the NFZ to seek solutions to avoid any disconnection. However, despite multiple discussions, the NFZ management and shareholders proceeded with disconnecting TIU Canada from the substation on the morning of March 1, 2020. This illegal disconnection has caused more than 1.5 million Euros of damage to TIU Canada already and increases daily.
The next hearing of the case will be December 16 and likely continue in the coming weeks. TIU Canada CEO Michael Yurkovich said, “this is a clear case of oligarchs pressuring a foreign investor and trying to steal assets. As a leader in corporate social responsibility in Ukraine, we had hoped this was a thing of the past in Ukraine, unfortunately, such practices continue. Nonetheless, we are mustering our resources and will fight this case in Ukraine, Canada, or any jurisdiction needed to win. Corruption must not be allowed to continue in Ukraine, and the rights of investors must be protected.” It should be noted that on July 3, while speaking to the Economic Club of Canada, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the work of TIU Canada at the Toronto Ukraine Reforms Conference. He said, “We think about the future, that is why green energy will be one of the key sectors of our economy during the upcoming years. I know that we have here Canadian company TIU that already successfully works in this area. We are grateful to them for this – please, follow their example”. This case now becomes a test of President Zelensky’s commitment to protecting foreign investors in Ukraine from illegal disconnection and corrupt actions.
TIU Canada is owned by the Calgary based Refraction 1 Fund and has been working in Ukraine since 2016. The company commissioned a 10 ½ megawatt solar energy plant in Nikopol, Ukraine, in January 2018, and an 11-megawatt solar station in the Mykolayiv region in April 2019. An additional 33 megawatts of solar electricity production have been commissioned in the Odesa region, for a total of 54 megawatts nationwide. TIU Canada has invested more than $65 million in Ukrainian solar energy over the last four years and was the first investor in Ukraine under the Canadian Ukrainian Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA).
TIU Canada directly and through its subcontractors employs more than 30 people in Ukraine whose jobs are now threatened by this illegal disconnection.
TIU Canada plans to complete construction of two solar power plants with a total capacity of some 31 MW in Lymansky district of Odesa region this summer, TIU Canada in Ukraine Manager Valentyna Beliakova has said in an interview with Reform.Energy portal.
Commenting on plans to expand the solar power plants portfolio to 100 MW, she said that the company will return to them after the adoption of the law on green auctions.
According to the forecast of Beliakova, the market for the construction of solar power plants in 2020 after the introduction of auctions will definitely begin to fall. “Until the auction system will be adjusted, until investors will understand how to work on it, and until they will allocate quotas… the volume that is planned to be provided to all renewable energy facilities now – and the numbers of 500-700 MW per year are voiced – is small,” she said.
Commenting on the fact of the high tariff for the purchase of electricity from the solar power plants in Ukraine, Beliakova said that in Germany, one of the first to introduce this mechanism of support for renewable energy, the tariff was valid for 10-15 years at a fairly high level. In Ukraine, less time has passed since the establishment of the feed-in tariff, moreover, in 2015-2016, it was reduced.
“In addition, how are auctions held in Germany? The winner is provided with land parcels, technical conditions for connection. This significantly reduces the cost of the project. The investor can only install equipment. They have clearly defined territories, free capacity and connection conditions,” the head of TIU Canada in Ukraine said, noting that in view of this it is incorrect to compare the tariff of 15 eurocents per kWh in Ukraine with the tariff of 4-6 eurocents in Germany.
According to Beliakova, the stimulation of green energy, of course, should be only until its share reaches a certain level. “However, Ukraine does not yet follow the schedule for renewable energy facilities outlined in the Energy Strategy,” the head of TIU Canada in Ukraine said, recalling that the share of alternative sources of Ukraine’s overall generation remains low – less than 2%.
As reported, TIU Canada began its activity in Ukraine in June 2017. Its owner is the investment company Refraction Asset Management (Calgary, Canada). The company has already built a solar power plant with a capacity of 10.5 MW in Nikopol and is building another one in Mykolaiv region with a capacity of 13.5 MW.