On the Challenges Ukrainian Energy Infrastructure Faces before the Winter Season

May 29, 2023
UkraineWorld spoke with Volodymyr Omelchenko, Director of Energy Programmes at the Razumkov Centre.

Key points — in our brief. #UkraineWorldAnalysis

On the current state of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure

  • Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is currently not in a satisfactory state because of the powerful attacks that have been going on for almost a year.
  • Our country’s power engineers did everything possible under these conditions to make the energy system function. They repaired it and made it run. But it is operating now in emergency mode on insufficiently reliable temporary power schemes.

On how to restore energy infrastructure and prepare it for the winter season

  • There are both tactical and strategic tasks. The tactical one is to prepare the energy system for the winter season with the repair and stockpiling of equipment. The strategic task is to reform the energy market and prepare investment projects.
  • Regarding repair works, 99% of the work is being done by energy companies. Ukrenergo is carrying out repair works at substations and power transmission lines. Thermal power plants are repairing damaged units, and Energoatom (the national nuclear power company) is reloading nuclear fuel.
  • Ukraine’s energy companies are stockpiling energy resources, first and foremost coal and natural gas.
  • It’s necessary to create reserves not only of energy sources, but of equipment. Since we do not know how long the attacks will continue, Ukraine needs to create a large emergency stock of equipment.

On strategic challenges and solutions

  • Ukraine has declared that it is seeking to reform its energy sector with decarbonization, decentralization, demonopolization, and digitalization (developing a smart grid). The main part of this agenda will be implemented after the war, since all these actions require considerable investments.
  • At the same time, there are positive changes happening. The construction of a biofuel power plant is underway. Investments are being made. This is a promising development for decentralization. On May 19, the first phase of the Tiligulska wind power plant with a capacity of 114 MW was put into operation. The plan is to build a total of 500 MW in capacity in this phase. This is a big contribution to balance the energy system during this difficult period.

What energy companies need from the state and international partners to balance the energy system

  • Ukraine needs assistance from its partners to reform the country’s energy and gas markets, as well as financial aid to create emergency reserves of equipment.
  • Ukraine needs to raise funds for energy decentralization. This means constructing small solar, wind, and biofuel power plants at the local level to provide local critical infrastructure - like schools, hospitals, and security/defense facilities - with electricity.
  • We also want our international partners to study the energy situation in Ukraine and prepare investment projects, primarily related to decarbonization. This means helping with the construction of renewably-powered generation plants, including hydrogen generation, biofuel, solar, and wind power. The hope is that by the end of the war, these projects will already be ready for implementation.
Volodymyr Omelchenko, Director of Energy Programmes at the Razumkov Centre