How will Ukraine’s power supply fare this year — analysis

Ukraine’s national power grid operator Ukrenergo on May 14 announced emergency outages across all regions of Ukraine due to a significant generation shortage caused by colder weather amid Russian attacks on energy facilities.

A few days earlier, Russia attacked Ukraine with various types of weapons, targeting power generation and transmission facilities in six regions.

“The energy shortage remains, imports have physical limitations, while the demand for electricity is growing significantly due to the low temperatures,” CEO of YASNO (major Ukrainian power utility company), Serhii Kovalenko, wrote on Facebook on May 14.

Kovalenko added that if the surge in demand is now caused by Ukrainian turning heaters on, summertime weather will produce a similar stress as air conditioning kicks in.

NV asked several experts about how widespread power cuts could be for the population in the near future, what awaits Ukrainians in the summer months of peak electricity consumption, and whether energy companies will have time to repair damaged facilities by winter.

Electricity imports can’t fully cover our deficit now, but they can significantly mitigate the situation, says Oleksandr Kharchenko, Director of the Energy Industry Research Center (EIR Center). But the Ukrainian market remains somewhat distorted as it’s limited by government-mandated price caps, Kharchenko explains.

“When Ukrenergo directly applies for emergency assistance, sometimes our [European] partners are simply not ready to generate a sufficient amount of electricity,” he says.

“If it happens as planned, of course, they’ll be able to supply us with all the volume that we are able to take, which is 1.7 GW according to the ENTSO-E [European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity] regulation.”

Ukraine is not using this quota in full now, Kharchenko added.

Until May 14, restrictions on power supply mostly applied to industry, but even this wasn’t enough, so households now must deal with scheduled blackouts.

“Now we’re talking about 7-8% of the total number of consumers in Ukraine being left without power supply at any given moment, for a short period of time [3-4 hours],” Kharchenko says.

“I think we’ll regularly face such power limitations in the near future, for the next two to three years.”

Read also: Power supply restrictions to ease next week — Ukrenergo

It’s difficult to predict the situation in the summer months of peak electricity consumption due to hot weather, the expert admits. Everything will depend on consumers, the situation with imports, the pace of repairs, and potential Russian attacks.

“On the one hand, everyone is working to restore damaged [generation] capacity — that work is underway as intensively as possible,” Kharchenko says.

“But there are many factors that can cause either some minimal power limitations and outages, or they can be quite unpleasant and take up to three or four hours a day.”

“We’re repairing while they [the Russians] are attacking,” he says.

“Our partners provide air defense, so the effectiveness of attacks decreases, and we have time to repair more. This is the competition we live in.”

Volodymyr Omelchenko, Director of Energy and Infrastructure Programs at the Razumkov Center think tank, also predicts power supply restrictions for both industrial and household consumers in the summer.

“The reason is clear: air conditioners will start working in apartments, offices, and shops,” he explains.

“Moreover, this will coincide with planned maintenance of some nuclear power plants. But, I think, power outages for household consumers won’t be severe.”

Most likely, they will happen during peak evening hours, Omelchenko notes.

“But it also depends on the electricity saving by the population during these hours, as well as on how we’ll use imports: whether we’ll fully use the quota and whether it will increase,” he adds.

Read also: Ukraine is experiencing power outages nationwide, but it will be worse in winter - YASNO director

It will also depend on new Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure: if there are none, long-term power cuts for the population aren’t expected, the expert says.

“There’s such a risk, of course, because there’s an energy shortage,” Omelchenko explains.

“Limitations for industry have already been in place for several weeks. Yesterday [May 14], several unfavorable factors took their toll: it was quite cold, which increased consumption, and it was also cloudy, i.e. solar power plants produced less electricity.”

Ukraine uses only 25-30% of its import quota, the expert said.

“Some industries count on emergency assistance from Ukrenergo,” he says.

“But it’s impossible to do this indefinitely due to high prices and unprofitability of this operation for Ukrenergo, as well as ‘excess’ electricity isn’t always available in EU countries.”

However, he considers it necessary to increase the import quota from 1.7 GW to at least 2.5 GW.

“It’s almost like one nuclear reactor unit,” Omelchenko compares.

“And, of course, it’s necessary for industries not to wait only for emergency assistance from Ukrenergo, but also to try to import electricity themselves.”

“We won’t be able to fully recover all the losses [by winter], which is up to 8 GW today.”

“It’s impossible, if only partially. We can produce about 1.5-2 GW of additional generation via cogeneration power plants and diesel generators, as well as bringing some wind and solar power plants online. In addition, we can restore [damaged facilities] that will add about the same volume, but only if protected by air defenses. This should happen simultaneously.”

The electricity deficit will be large in winter, which will be “partly covered by imports, partly we’ll import and install small generation [distributed maneuvering capacity – small power plants],” the expert predicts.

“Therefore, my forecast is as follows: I think we’ll be able to maintain the integrity of the power grid in winter. This is the key task for today, as well as ensuring the minimum necessary needs of both industrial and household consumers,” Omelchenko concludes.

Read also: Scheduled blackouts nationwide, including in Kyiv, as Ukraine's energy system buckles from Russian attacks

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine