Ukraine expects energy deficit to rise in summer due to Russian attacks

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine may face an increase in electricity shortages this summer caused by recent Russian attacks on power stations amid rising consumption and a repair campaign at nuclear power plants, the head of the country's grid operator said on Friday.

Since late March, the Ukrainian energy sector has been the target of massive Russian missile and drone attacks, causing blackouts in many regions and raising the issue of decentralisation of generating capacity.

"We will definitely face challenges in the summer and these challenges will be primarily related to capacity shortages due to damage to power plants," Volodymyr Kudrytskiy, the head of Ukrenergo grid operator, told a televised briefing.

After the latest attacks on the energy system, Ukrenergo imposed power supply restrictions on industrial consumers while the government urged the population to save electricity.

"We realise that today is not the most difficult situation yet, we have not yet seen the real summer heat and air conditioning systems are not yet in use," Kudrytskiy said.

He added that hydro-electric power plants can produce less electricity in the summer, when nuclear power plants also undergo regular mandatory repairs.

Ukrenergo said Ukraine planned to import 13,904 megawatt hours (Mwh) of electricity on Friday versus 16,699 Mwh on Thursday.

It said in a statement that Ukraine received emergency power aid from EU countries in the morning, and during the day it expects to import electricity from Romania, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Moldova.

Ukrainian officials have said the country has lost about 80% of its thermal power generation, relying increasingly on the three nuclear power plants that produce about 60% of its electricity.

Thermal and hydro-electric power generation are needed to keep supply and demand balanced during the peak hours of energy consumption in the morning and evening.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)