Energy of independence: Ukraine to recharge Europe

24 August, 11:35 AM
Almost all of Ukraine's wind farms have been captured or destroyed by the occupiers (Photo:Pixabay / Marko Grothe)

Almost all of Ukraine's wind farms have been captured or destroyed by the occupiers (Photo:Pixabay / Marko Grothe)

August 2022 marks two historically significant dates for Ukraine.

The 31st anniversary of Independence and exactly six months of the selfless battle of the entire nation for this Independence during the full-scale invasion of Russia. In fact, this battle has been going on for the last three decades.

Every year, we gradually gained long desired Independence: political, economic, cultural, and no less important, energy. 

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For Ukraine gaining energy independence was not fast nor easy. The breaking points on the way occurred in 2015 when Ukraine stopped buying Russian gas and switched to contracts with EU countries. And then the year 2022.

On February 24, the Ukrainian energy system, after having disconnected from the energy systems of Russia and Belarus, started autonomous operation. As it turned out a few hours later, this disengagement was final and irreversible. That night Russia attacked Ukraine.

On March 16, 2022, Ukraine joined ENTSO-E. Synchronization with the European power system occurred 1.5 years earlier than planned making Ukraine yet another significant element of European security. This time in energy.

Ukraine has been caught up in a war for the past six months while Russia purposefully destroyed its energy infrastructure facilities. And yet the energy system of Ukraine works stably. On top of that, Ukraine successfully exports electricity to Europe, helping it eliminate dependence on Russian energy resources.

It is clear now that the existing EU’s energy security system turned out to be a failure. Europe was systematically drawn into dependence on cheap Russian energy sources. Doubtfully, this dependence can qualify as a system of energy security. This is the lesson for all of us.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has already changed the European energy landscape. After our victory, Ukraine will play a vital role as a clean energy supplier in reinvented European energy security system.

Once the war is over, Ukraine is to enter the recovery phase immediately.

At this point support from our European partners will be of great value and the EU has already committed to sending donations to the “Recover Ukraine platform”.

However, Ukraine does not ask for charity. We are ready and willing to earn the needed finance to restore. The future of Ukraine is based on our ability to build our economy back. That is the fundamental pillar of a new and resilient Ukrainian energy sector. Sustainability in the energy sector is a key to sustainable economic development and national security.

So, how can Ukraine achieve that, and what should be our priorities and key strategic aims?

The energy crisis, which has not yet reached its peak, will accelerate the process of decarbonization. Europe is looking to replace Russian fossil fuels. The stake is made primarily in renewables. More renewable sources - less dependence!

The boom in investments flowing into Ukrainian renewable sources has become a real success story.

None of Ukraine’s economic sectors in the history of Ukrainian independence has ever attracted large amounts of investments. This happened not only due to the favorable financial conditions but also due to Ukraine’s potential and efforts put into making it noticeable to international investors. 

Ukraine can boast of imposing territories suitable for building and developing solar and wind power facilities. The Global Wind Energy Council has stated that almost half of Ukrainian territory is ideally suited for wind energy.

Further investment is required, and access to the EU markets and political assurance will guarantee that finance. Ukraine can reach a first strategic aim of 50% renewables by 2030, which will require 30 GW of wind and solar.

Ukrainian energy companies are making an all-out effort to restore and rebuild sections of the nation's power grid wrecked by Russian military action. In the meantime, the preparation process for Ukraine as an electricity exporter to Europe is ongoing. Restoring and developing new power lines for cross-border electricity export is a second strategic aim for post-war Ukraine.

The future energy infrastructure of Ukraine is hard to imagine without battery energy storage system capabilities.

As well as extensive underground gas storage facilities close to the European Union’s eastern border should be considered as a holistic energy infrastructure development strategy. DTEK was the first and is by far the only Ukrainian energy company to implement a battery energy storage system.

Now, battery energy storage systems are considered a vector of investments in Ukraine that will ensure the future development of renewable energy.

The Renaissance of nuclear power represents the third strategic aim for post-war Ukraine. The unique expertise of Ukrainians in atomic energy should be developed and capitalized on.

These days we have a chance to witness the genesis of a new breakthrough technology - small modular reactors.

For Ukraine, this is not only a part of the strategy for developing carbon-free energy sources but also a solution for replacing thermal power plants that have been destroyed in the wake of the Russian invasion or will go out of service within the next few years.

The concept of building new, instead of rebuilding Ukraine after the war, can be vividly implemented due to this technology. On top of that, Ukraine can be and should be at the forefront of the development of this technology.

There is no doubt that post-war Ukraine is the New Ukraine, which will inspire the whole world with its bravery and charge Europe with new and clean energy.

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