By Climate Scorecard Ukraine Country Manager Anastasia Bushovska
Slavutych, population 25 000, is a Ukrainian city developed for the evacuated personnel of Chernobyl. In 2019, funded by equity crowdfunding, the “City of the Sun” project was created to promote the use of solar energy among the population. The city aimed at establishing its own solar power plants on municipal buildings and they encouraged average citizens to buy shares, therefore enabling them to contribute to solar energy production and earn money through energy sales into the grid.
This cooperative approach resulted in a lower and more accessible pricing system for every participant. Every participant has 1 vote (the weight of the vote is not determined by number of shares) and thus results in equitable and cooperative asset management. 5% of the resulting income from the project will be contributed to municipal projects chosen by the local community. The small size of the project resulted in a provisional number of shares being 320, although the number of participants may be smaller if somebody buys more than one share. It was the first project of its kind in Ukraine and resulted in development of 3 stations with total power capacity equal to 200 kW.
The project became possible because of a dedicated project team consisting of a green innovation specialist, financial specialist, energy engineer, judicial specialist, and a supportive group of activists. There also was enormous support from the municipal developmental agency and the municipality itself. Also, the local community being mostly engineers contributed to the interest and support of the project.
The City of the Sun Project consists of 3 stations (on 3 buildings) constructed with photovoltaic monocrystalline PERC-based modules. All the energy is sold to the grid. The cost of the project was 175 513 euro, including the costs of the modules and supplementary equipment, construction, development of the project, marketing and taxes.
The PERC cells provide up to 1% of absolute gain in efficiency (compared to regular PV-cells) and are often chosen for economic reasons. Moreover, the PERC life-cycle emission rate is equal to 29.2 g CO2-eq./kWh—while the rates for natural gas and coal are 272-907 g CO2-eq/kWh and 635-1633 g CO2-eq./kWh, respectively. Therefore, this technology emits 9-56 times less than fossil fuel sources. Considering the estimated power supply was 225 729 kWh/year in its first year of operation, it avoided between 54 807 and 362 024 kg CO2-eq emissions.
Since operational projects cost 7286 euro/year, the usage cost rate is 0.0058 euro/kWh. For the oil and gas thermal power plant (120 MW) in the same region, usage cost rate would be 0.9 euro/kWh. Although, the thermal plant has higher power capacity, and the numbers need to be compared with caution.
The City of the Sun project aims to scale up through teaching and encouraging community members to create their own similar collective projects. It was developed by adapting related projects and Ukrainian energy regulations. Equity crowdfunding is already widely utilized in different countries producing and distributing hydropower, wind, and solar energy. Therefore, anybody can create similar projects based on the existing ones.
Website of the initiative (in Ukrainian): https://solartown.com.ua/