Time is short, but there is a chance: what Ukraine needs to survive the winter

07.06.2024
News

Unlike in previous years, Ukraine’s energy system has suffered devastating losses this year and will not recover in time for winter. However, private businesses have some technologies that can help provide households and businesses with heat and electricity. To scale them up, we need competent and, most importantly, prompt government assistance.

Participants of the press conference “Distributed Generation. How Ukraine can survive the winter of 2024/2025”, which took place at Interfax-Ukraine on June 5.

According to Vladyslav Sokolovskyi, Chairman of the Solar Energy Association of Ukraine, the situation is really very difficult this time. Big energy has suffered heavy losses, with at least 9 GW of power generation lost. Almost all thermal power plants have been destroyed, and this is very serious for the Ukrainian energy sector.

“Since our power system is subjected to daily crash tests, it must become anti-fragile. What can help with this? In our opinion, it is distributed generation. Green generation, renewables, should become a large system of this distributed generation,” he said.

Vladyslav Sokolovsky
Vladyslav Sokolovsky

According to him, solar generation, which is part of the energy sector in general, is also suffering losses. At least 15% of industrial SPPs have been damaged, and Pokrovska SPP was recently targeted. Only 950 MW of installed capacity of industrial SPPs remained in the occupied territory. There are still 5.9 GW of installed capacity of industrial SPPs and about 1.5 GW of small domestic power plants.

Despite all the difficulties, since 2022, the total capacity of solar power plants in Ukraine has increased by 300 MW for small and 90 MW for large solar power plants. And now they are helping to stabilize the power grid, which is clearly visible in consumer outages: as soon as daylight comes, the grid has more power.

“Distributed generation has significant advantages,” explained Sokolovsky, “We have already realized that it cannot be destroyed, it cannot be captured. And now we need to think about it, because the next winter period will be very difficult. We have some time for very quick actions on the part of the state, associations, and energy companies.”

Oleksandr Dombrovsky, Chairman of the Board of Global 100 RE Ukraine, President of MHP Eco Energy, added that the sun is the most affordable technology today. And the easiest for installation reasons:

“Solar technologies, from electricity generation to heat generation through solar collectors, can be used by users ranging from households to medium and large businesses. If you have a house, you have installed solar panels and a storage system, you have solved your problem. You have electricity all the time, it’s cheap, all your home equipment works, you can charge your electric car if you have one, and no one can turn you off.”

Олександр Домбровський
Oleksandr Dombrovsky

All the experts spoke about the importance of energy storage systems, whose role is still often underestimated in Ukraine.

“Energy security comes first today, and in winter we will be worse off with solar energy than in summer. And there is no panacea, no single solution to save the situation at a particular enterprise, in a region or in a country. There should be a reasonable mix of different types of generation, and energy storage facilities should be the key in this system. We have to work hard to make them available in the grid,” said Vitaliy Nikolayenko, CEO of Voltage Group.

Віталій Николаєнко
Vitaliy Nikolayenko

Petro Bahriy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Clear Energy Group, spoke about another component of distributed generation – biogas and fuel plants:

“All these years, the business has been moving not thanks to, but rather in spite of, the government. It was a business initiative, a desire to modernize the country, to implement approaches that are used throughout the civilized world.Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch in these difficult times. We already have prepared facilities and experienced staff. And we are ready to expand our operations and share our experience with other market participants.”

However, Ukraine’s existing biofuel CHP plants with an installed capacity of 54 MW are not operating. One of the problems is the supply of raw materials. “The price set by the National Agency of Forest Resources today is simply unacceptable for the current pricing in the electricity market. That’s why it’s also a question of why this is happening,” said Bagriy.

Петро Багрій
Petro Bahriy

All experts mentioned government support. They talked about facilitating grid connection procedures and reducing the tax burden, including proposals to abolish VAT and import duties on generating equipment, and to provide soft loans or partial repayment of them. Also, the need to settle the debts of the State Enterprise “Guaranteed Buyer” to renewable energy producers, which amount to UAH 25 billion.

The problem of staff shortages was also raised. “Now we may be in a situation where we receive money and equipment, possibly from the European Union or with the help of the state, but it will be difficult for us to install a solar station, in particular,” explains Vladyslav Sokolovskyi, Chairman of the Board of the All-Ukrainian Association of Solar Energy Enterprises. “There are fears that the installation work may stop altogether.”

According to Oleksandr Dobrovsky, President of MHP Eco Energy, many distributed generation solutions and tools have already been launched and are being used by private businesses, including biogas cogeneration units that generate electricity and heat.

“Similar projects need to be set up in every regional center. It’s not a big problem to calculate the capacity needed for Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Lviv, any large city. Every city has all the energy infrastructure in terms of gas infrastructure, heat or electricity supply. We just need to turn on the desire, elements of state support, and we can manage to prepare some of the cities with some sufficient capacity for the winter,” Dombrovsky said.

He also noted that Ukraine needs not only ongoing technical assistance from foreign partners, but also modern solutions, including energy storage systems of 200, 300, 400 MW, which will help compensate for the loss of maneuvering capacities.

And all this needs to be done as quickly as possible. “The decision must be made today,” says Vladyslav Sokolovskyi, “Maybe it should have been made yesterday. We are running out of time. There are just a few months left to get ready and start the winter period with the least losses.”

Partners material

Become a member of 100 RE UA

Switching to 100% renewable energy in Ukraine is possible!