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What Ukrainians Think of Renewable Energy

Poll in Ukraine

Report on the online survey results about the attitude of the Ukrainian population to renewable energy (clean energy), green economy and our personal impact on the protection of the environment by means of sustainable energy sources

Survey Methodology: The survey was conducted from 08-14 January 2021 by means of the CAWI method and Google forms. The link to the survey was posted on the site of Promote Ukraine, Facebook, and has been mailed to the interested audience.

Development of the survey tools and information processing have been provided by the Institute of Sociological Research at Kyiv National Economic University named after Vadym Hetman. The questionnaire was compiled together with Oleksandr Sushchenko, PhD in Economics, an UNDP Expert on Green Economy and Financing, and Roksoliana Liubachivska, PhD in Economics, author of the dissertation on “Formation of High Technology Clusters in the EU bioeconomy.”

The sociological data obtained is descriptive in nature and reflects the general attitude of the Ukrainian population to renewable energy (clean energy), green economy and our personal impact on the protection of the environment by means of sustainable energy sources of the Earth.

The survey was completed by 277 respondents aged 18 and above. Of the respondents, 80.9% have higher education (Bachelor, Specialist or Master level). The most active audience is people aged from 41 to 55 (40.8%) and 29-40-year-olds (33.9%). The least number of participants (2.5%) is people aged from 56 to 65. There were no respondents of 65 and older.

More than half of the participants (59.6%) are men. Professional activity of 19.5% of respondents is related to ecology; 9.7% of respondents are employed in the sphere of traditional energy; and 7.5% work with alternative energy.

75.1% are residents of cities with a population of more than one million, 8.3% are country-dwellers; 2.5% are from small towns (settlements) with a population of up to 10,000 inhabitants. The remaining 14.1% live in small and big towns.

37.5% of the respondents mentioned that there are wind turbines, solar panels, etc. located either in the towns they live in or within a 10 km. radius. 25.6% have seen renewable energy installations in their regions. There are no systems of that kind in the territories where 24.5% of respondents dwell, and 12.3% did not pay attention to such installations.

29.6% would permit the installation of solar systems in their courtyard if they have no obligations of co-financing or maintenance. For 14.1%, the feasibility of installing such equipment in the backyard seems questionable, and the risks and problems are obvious. 2.9% found it difficult to answer this question. A certain number of respondents commented that they would install such equipment to provide their households with energy and to be independent from electricity suppliers; others would agree to install it on the terms of certain compensation or on a commercial basis. It was also mentioned that the current green energy is not the means of protection the planet, but just a noxiousness for neighbouring regions.

However, 46.6% of respondents would agree to install equipment on the roof of their houses to use alternative energy sources, as they want to be involved in saving the planet from environmental catastrophe.

62.5% of respondents discourage emissions from enterprises in Ukraine, as the most valuable thing in this world is human life and health. For 27.8%, emissions are the downside of industry. The respondents also noted that “emissions are bad, but it is the responsibility of the state,” “the amount of emissions matters!” and ” the damage from emissions can be significantly reduced without reducing production.” 6.1% believe that escalating the situation with harmful emissions is an artificial problem.

The respondents’ evaluation of alternative and traditional energy has formed the following ranking of “environmentally friendly energy sources”:

Thus, solar energy is considered to be the least harmful for the environment (57% think so), though there are some clarifying remarks like “solar energy is of a thermal and photovoltaic type. The production of photovoltaic modules is very harmful for the environment as it is based on rare-earth metals mining.

The second place of our ad hoc ranking went to for wind energy (44.4%), and the third place is gained by the traditional source – the atom (31.4%).

Then, geothermal energy (29.6%) and biofuel (24.5%t) follow. Regarding the latter, it was noted that “it is important how biofuels are produced.” Because there is no guarantee that domestic biofuels’ carbon footprint during the production is less than the one during the usage of the biofuels.

In general, 24.5% consider all renewable energy sources to be less harmful to the environment than non-renewable ones.

As just mentioned above, 31.4% of respondents do not consider the atom to be a harmful source of energy.

So, what is the best perspective for operating nuclear power plants (NNP)? 43% are convinced that nuclear energy is one of the most cost-effective, low-carbon energy sources, so this sphere should be developed, not abandoned.”

14.1% believe that in Ukraine there are no alternatives to existing NPPs as energy sources, so it is necessary to support what exists and build new sources. 37.2% tend to abandon nuclear energy and switch to alternative sources, given the risks of operating nuclear power plants (the Chernobyl experience) and only 0.7% chose the answer “Ukraine is ready to decommission existing nuclear power plants.” Among the comments on this issue, we got the following: “We must renounce the NNPs, but there are no alternatives yet;” “The price [for renewable energy] is much higher than for NPPs;” “NPP operational life time in the majority of cases has expired, but 50% of gross electricity production can hardly be replaced especially with alternative sources;”It is necessary to increase capacity at the expense of NNPs, because green energy is not as environmentally friendly, as it is presented;” “We need to calculate and plan the use of nuclear energy properly, because it is, in fact, an enormously powerful source of energy that can be environmentally safe.”

In general, the source of energy used by respondents on a daily basis is important for 78.7%, as energy production affects the environment (45.1%) and its cost depends on it (33.6%). It was also suggested that both factors mentioned above are decisive and should be considered together. 9.4% did not think about the question, and for 8.7% the source of energy in everyday use does not matter.

In any case, 15.2% of respondents are ready to pay more for electricity if it is obtained from alternative sources that are safer for the environment. They consider it an investment in the future. 36.8% do not mind paying more, if the price difference is up to 10% or up to 20% (25.6% and 11.2% of respondents, respectively). A similar percentage of respondents – 36.8 – is not ready for the option ” to pay more,” in particular because “solar and wind energy should be much cheaper than thermal and nuclear, the price is inflated artificially.” 6.9% of respondents found it difficult to answer the question, and 4.3% of respondents used the option “Other” and detailed their position: “an environmental audit of production at all stages is required;” “the state must compensate for the difference in price;” “renewable energy should be cheap, as it is not necessary to pay miners for coal production, railway workers for its transportation, etc.;” “It’s bullying! People won’t be able to pay more […], even if it’s good for the environment.”

46.9% of respondents are ready to “switch” to an electric car if the government supports such an initiative; 2.9% already use electric cars, and for 20.9% a hybrid car is the best option. 18.4% do not have a car and do not plan to buy one, and 7.2% are not ready to change their preferences for the “hybrid” vehicle.

Respondents noted that “the electric car has a short driving distance and is too expensive;” “an increase in the amount of electrical goods leads to an increase in electricity consumption, which is currently not produced mainly from solar and wind energy;” “as easy government can support it, as easy it could decline its support then and implement triple tariff on electricity.”  

By choosing the sphere of investment, survey participants are inclined to believe in its economical profit (45.8%), its influence on the health and environment (28.9%), trends and innovations (14.8%).

By contrast with 28.5% of respondents, 43.7% are ready to invest in technologies of renewable energy or/and in its development. That question emerged to be hard for 23.1% percent, whereas 1.4% have already invested and are receiving dividends, and 1.1% have already made an investment and are receiving profit. Some respondents pointed out that they are ready to make an investment, but there must be guarantees from the state, however, the main deterrent is still an absence of free funds for investing at all.

Those respondents who are ready to invest in technologies of renewable energy, demonstrate such priorities: 62.1% would like to invest in solar power plants, 36.% – in wind-drive turbines, 35.3% – in biofuels, 16.9% – in energy of geothermal waters, 14.7% – in hydroelectric power stations, while 16.2% of participants qualify that question as difficult to answer.

“The development of renewable sources of energy could be the basis for the agenda of the Ukrainian renovation after post-COVID crisis” – 34.3% of respondents agree with that statement and 20.9 rather agree. 13.4% would rather disagree and those who completely disagree is 20.9%.

For 37.5% of survey participants, the issue of green energy is urgent and strategically important for Ukraine. 34.1% agreed with that, too, but there are also more important issues that need a solution as fast as possible. 27.4% of respondents are convinced that there are more actual issues, that must be resolved first: “we need to be conscious of war and epidemic…”

The question of renewable energy sources is still prioritised on the background of the pandemic and economic recession in Ukraine and in the world for 38.6% of respondents; then, 28.9% would rather agree with this statement. Nearly 30% disagree; 10.1% responded “Rather no” to that question, 19.5% -“No”. 2.9% mentioned that they can hardly give an answer.

Only 9.4% of respondents believe that there is enough attention for issues of renewable energy in Ukraine; the same percentage of people said that “rather yes, the issues of renewable energy in Ukraine are taken into account enough.” In the same way, approximately the same amount of those surveyed said “no” and “rather no,” which means that 36.8% and 36.5%, respectively, think that there is not enough attention paid to the issues of renewable energy in Ukraine. The comments for that question in the box “Other” are different: from “Lately, I see a little information on to that topic” to “There is no constant attention, but from time to time it is enough attention being paid to that.

Just the same as renewable energy issues are not tended enough in Ukraine, the governmental support of development of alternative energy sources in Ukraine are too insufficient (54.5%). Only 16.6% think that it is one of few spheres that receives a high level of governmental support. 22.7% mentioned that it is hard for them to answer that question, and almost 6% of respondents’ comment it like: “Ukrainians are predominantly supported by international donations according to that issue, and it is their funds that further the cause;” “Governmental support is excessive and useless;” “The state has completely delegated the support of green energy to consumers and granted that mechanism for future. It is a mistake;” “It is an alimentation of oligarchic structures under the pretence of helping in solving ecological problems.”

What obstacles are the most substantial for the development of renewable energy sources in Ukraine?

The business climate – in the minds of 55.6% respondents; legal and regulatory framework – 18.4%; insufficient level of qualified staff members – 5.1%. 9% said that there are no difficulties, and almost 20% have their own versions of the reasons of the alternative energy development problems in Ukraine: “Financial preconception and assertiveness of big players;” ‘Political risks and instability;” “ People and business are not mentally ready for changes, they just dont understand that if they didnt change, any money wouldnt rescue them, their families and business;” “The key-note obstacle is big commercial groups that by ruling governmental marionettes, block the development of RES in Ukraine;” “President and his team;” “Ravenous oligarchs;” “Corruption, for instance, in the sphere of natural environmental protection, the absence of real forfeits and the small cost of it;” “Lack of governmental guaranties;” “Such factors as insufficient technical resources of electricity accumulation and low efficiency factor;” “Low effectiveness and inconstant generating;” “Financial poorness of Ukrainians.

So, what is green economy for Ukraine from our respondent’s point of view? For 49.1%, it is inevitable future; 24.5% consider it like a theme for demagogy and speculation; something comparable to space exploration of Ilon Mask: exciting, useful, but fantastic for the earliest decades in domestic reality – for 18.8%. 2.2% mentioned that it is hard for them to give an answer, while 7.6 % chose the option “Other” and clarified their opinion: “It is a possibility to decrease generation of electricity on TPP;” “There is a guaranteed profit for funders of greenenergetics thanks to the deficiency of business struggling, for account of consumers;” “Extremely detrimental initiative both for economy and ecology;” “Supracompetitive fares. Economical machinations. Removing of financial sources abroad;” “Corruption and loss of energetic independence of the state;” “Bane of our life because of fees such as 5 and 15 kWe*year;” “Benefication of DTEK, severe contamination by TPP;” “Green economics is not an up-to-date issue because of unresolved energy crisis. However, considering renewable energy sources as an aspect of self-dependence for houses, villages, UTC – it could be very useful and beneficial for such core audiences.

“Feed-in tariff” (that is “stimulation by National commission, which implements governmental regulation in the sphere of energy and community facilities, production of electricity power from alternative sources”) is regarded as an effective economical mechanism aimed to encourage that electricity generation be renewable energy – by 38.3% of respondents. For 40.4%, it is an instrument of commercial enterprises and households to consume budget and grant funds. 11.9% found it difficult to answer this question, and 9.4% expressed more personalised opinions on this issue: The Feed-in tariff is…

 “Robbery of final consumers with the prospect of appearing in a dept pit for the next decades.”

“Hidden subvention of large business groups;

“Crime against Ukrainians, because it leads to increasing of energy prices for the population and enterprises. It must be abolished.”

“The tool of robbing the population of Ukraine by oligarchs.”

“Speculation of authorities together with the oligarchs.” “Pretending to be concern about environment;

“Temporary measure that must be abolished when effectiveness of renewable sources will increase.”

“A great initiative, insufficient regulation;” “A necessary component of energy policy.

49.5% of respondents are not acquainted with the Energy strategy of Ukraine until 2035, 16.6% found that this document is an attempt of being conscious without proper understanding of the order of things. For 10.8%, this Strategy is utopia; for 7.9%, it is a document that encourages optimism. 6.5% assess it as an objective document with real, achievable goals. 8.7% found it hard to answer this question.

Ukrainian participation in European Green Deal happened to be an even more mysterious issue than the Energy strategy of Ukraine: 57% are not aware of this yet, 12.3 are not interested in that field. 6.5% think that they are informed enough, and 24.2% just heard about it.

For 52.3% of the respondents, the Ukrainian Strategy of implementing green energy must be with the consideration of mistakes and other countries` experience. 28.2% see it just the same as in developed countries: there is no need to discover the continents again. 10.5% are convinced that the Ukrainian strategy of implementing green energy must be unique because we have black soil, an experience of Chornobyl and other natural special aspects. At the same time, 5.8% of respondents didn’t think about it, and 3.2% find it hard to give an answer.

The question: “Is it necessary to conduct educational work with the population on the theme of alternative energy sources?” made the audience the most cohesive (82.7%): 64.3% answered, “Rather yes.” By giving comments they also mentioned: “Yes, it is important to explain full information about alternative sources including negative factors;” “Maybe more importantly will be the explanation of feasibility of energy efficiency and accumulation of cheap energy;” “Yes. To talk about its damage for nature and wallet;and “Yes, especially about corruption (unjustified spending of taxpayers` money to cover expenses).”

And finally, we have found out to what extent our respondents agree with the following theses on alternative energy for Ukraine:

(1-disagree, 10 – completely agree)

The answers were distributed as follows:

Alternative energy for Ukraine…”

It is a reputational deal that is profitable for the economy.

It is new work places and improvement of environmental conditions.

It is energy independence.

It is additional expenditures on the level of households and at the state level.

It is landscapes spoiled by giant wind-turbines and solar panels

It is one more threat of climate changing, for example because of “wind shadows.”

It is an intervention in circuit of substances in nature that will have negative effects.

“Brussels Ukraїna Review” readers and its editorial board are interested to know your opinion on the results of this survey. If you one of the respondents, are you impressed by the point of view of other participants? If you did not take part in this survey, what impression do you have looking through this summary?

Your feedback for the next issue of the Journal or on its web page is more than welcome!

Compiled by Evhenia Kolomiiets-Ludwig

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