I just spent nearly one week in Ukraine giving speeches about solar energy, wind energy, electric cars, and more. I also got to learn a lot about some of the great stuff happening in the cleantech space in Ukraine. As part of that, I got to tour the world’s 6th-largest solar PV power plant (largest in the world when it was completed) and talk with several people from the company that built it, Activ Solar.
While there were some lessons from all of this that might be a little Ukraine-specific, the fact of the matter is that most of the lessons could be useful to people all over the world, including us Americans.
Energy Independence = $$
The biggest lesson was probably that solar power can greatly reduce your energy imports (whether “you” means a whole country, a region, or an individual homeowner). Ukraine has cut its energy imports from Russia by about $3 billion thanks to this solar power plant and other large solar power plants Activ Solar has developed in the country in recent years.
That’s big. And that is one key reason the country has led the way with these large solar farms. But Ukraine is just one of millions of countries, regions, cities, towns, and individuals that import energy from elsewhere and pay a hefty fee for those “foreign” energy producers to supply them with energy. You’re probably in the same boat.
$3 billion is a lot for a country, but a large percentage of your own expenditures could also be cut by producing your own solar energy. In 2011, the average American who went solar was projected to save over $20,000 over the course of 20 years from the switch.
There were other interesting lessons from this tour and my trip as a whole, some of which I may share in articles here on Cost of Solar in the coming days, but I think that is the big one that millions of people could learn from.
One other big ones that I’ll share in this article is that it’s pretty awesome to ride through a solar farm on a 4-wheeler: