Solar PV capacity in the Ukraine is set to double in 2012, as a result of generous renewable incentives. Europe’s second-largest country currently hosts Europe’s biggest photovoltaic plant, a 100MW behemoth installed by Activ Solar GmbH last year, and is set to benefit from continued investment due to the scaling back of feed-in tariff schemes across Europe.

Ukraine offers the highest feed-in tariff rate of any European country. Currently, utility-scale projects benefit from a generous €0.46/kWh, fixed until 2030. The munificent FiT rate forms part of President Yanukovych’s wider renewable energy ambitions. Yanukovych hopes to dramatically cut the nation’s dependence on natural gas, the subject of a long-running dispute with Russia which escalated to such a point where Russia cut of all gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006.

Yanukovych believes the nation’s push towards self-sustaining energy production will help the country “earn and save money for decades to come.” As a result, the president set an ambitious target of 1,000MW of installed solar capacity by 2015.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Vitaly Daviy, Head of Alternative Fuels Association (APEU) said: “There’s a lot of interest from local and international companies right now in the Ukrainian solar market. Ukraine’s premium tariff will probably remain little changed this year,” adding that the government target “will be reached for sure.” 

Following Activ Solar’s developments in the market last year, other developers and manufacturers including Sharp, Schneider Electric and Renewable Energy Corp. are reportedly weighing up investment in the former Soviet republic.

Peter Rozenkrants, Managing Director of Israeli-based SunElectra, told Bloomberg that he expected Ukraine’s installed solar capacity to reach 800 megawatts by 2014, driven by the feed-in tariff and high solar-radiation levels in the south.

The emergence of Ukraine as a major solar market forms part of a wider trend which has seen Eastern Europe rapidly gain more attention from the renewable energy industry following the reduction of incentives in well-established markets such as Germany, Italy and Spain.