The Past and Future of Energy in Ukraine: A History of Change

It has been more than a year since the active phase of the war with Russia began, which was not limited to the territory of Ukraine but also extended to the struggle for control over the power grids.

The date of February 24, 2022, was not only the day of Russia's attack on Ukraine, but also the beginning of the Ukrainian power system's operation in isolation from the power systems of Russia and Belarus. In March 2022, Ukraine's power system was synchronized with the European power grid ENTSO-E. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that this step allowed Ukraine to become a member of the Energy Union. This is the main technological breakthrough in 30 years of the country's independence!

Ukraine's power system has withstood dozens of attacks by drones and missiles on power facilities. During the year of war, the Ukrainian power system suffered significant destruction and damage to distribution and trunk power grids. A significant number of conventional power plants were also seized or damaged, including the largest in Ukraine and Europe, ZNPP. This led to a power shortage of more than 10 GW. In the south and east of Ukraine, several GW of electricity generated by alternative energy facilities became unavailable.

In addition, the country's alternative energy sector received two more blows that significantly worsened its condition. First, the cost of electricity at the "green" tariff decreased by 3-6 times, which was a financial blow to investors in this industry. Secondly, in the spring and summer of 2022, the operation of existing RES facilities was severely limited due to an imbalance between consumption and generation. This happened because many businesses shut down and millions of Ukrainian citizens went abroad, which led to a decrease in electricity consumption by at least 4 GW.

At the same time, a new technological revolution is taking place in the world. Over the next decades, the energy sector will continue to use all available technologies, but the impetus for changes in the energy sector will be an effective decentralized combination of different types of generation (NPPs, HPPs, SPPs, wind farms, bioenergy, BESS, hydrogen, etc.) and automation of technological processes.

Briefly about the key trends in the energy sector that have already begun to develop in Ukraine:

  1. There is a need for energy storage facilities (industrial accumulation) to maintain/restore frequency. This need is 1000-2000 MW, depending on the mode of operation of renewable energy sources.
  2. Also, Ukraine has a great need for highly maneuverable generation with a total capacity of more than 2000 MW. Technically, gas-piston generators are ideally suited for this mission. But it is unclear whether the state will implement such projects. It is not very efficient in the construction of new facilities. Or private investors? Who do not have economic incentives to introduce this market...
  3. After the destruction of all oil refineries and oil storage facilities in Ukraine by Russia, there is a high demand for bioethanol as an additional source of fuel. The presence of a huge grain market makes it possible to develop this market.
  4. The fuel crisis in 2022 and, as a result, the law on the development of electric charging infrastructure and electric vehicles adopted in 2023 are strong drivers for the further development of electric transport in Ukraine.
  5. Due to the risks of disconnections from external power grids, agribusinesses have begun installing bio-waste power plants to ensure autonomous operation of their enterprises.
  6. Ukraine has the potential to become a European hub for green hydrogen, thanks to its extensive gas transportation system, developed alternative energy market, and geographical proximity to the European Union.The construction of a 1400 km long European hydrogen pipeline and a corresponding hydrogen hub in Eastern Slovakia offers this chance.
  7. The more than 10-year period of state support for the alternative energy sector through a high feed-in tariff is coming to an end. But, on the one hand, synchronization with the European ENTSO-E network will provide a good opportunity to export green energy to Europe. On the other hand, in order to further develop this industry, the government needs to introduce economic incentives for the development of hybrid systems, such as a solar power plant with an energy storage unit.

In 2022-2023, Russia caused destruction in Ukraine in general and in the energy sector in particular.
Therefore, Ukraine has no other choice but to become the first country in the world to switch to a new energy system.