Where to get additional kilowatts for Ukraine’s energy system? Five sources to cover the deficit

December 12, 2022

Russia has been targeting Ukraine's energy system with missiles and drones for the third month now. The population and business live in the mode of emergency power outages. But there is a way out.

Within two months, the Russian terrorist army fired more than a thousand missiles at Ukrainian energy facilities. This is unprecedented in human history. But we stand and recover, despite the huge scale of the destructions caused.

Time, equipment and funds are needed to fully restore the infrastructure and generating capacities. Therefore, during the transition period, unfortunately, there will be a certain shortage of electricity, i.e., predetermined blackout schedules will be introduced. Along with this, experts consider various options for maximum coverage of the demand for electricity in the short run.

Three options for Ukraine

The first possible source to cover the shortage of electricity in Ukraine is imports from the EU. The technical possibility is limited, but it exists since the recent synchronization of the Ukrainian and European energy systems. However, the sharp difference in electricity prices — EUR 200 to 250 per MWh in Romania or Slovakia and EUR 80 per MWh in Ukraine — deters traders from such operations due to obvious losses.

Therefore, the following decisions should be made: definitely, to ease the price limit in the "day-ahead" market segment, to introduce a special financing mechanism for such purchases, or to buy electricity at the expense of our foreign partners.

The next source of covering the electricity deficit is to install alternative energy facilities. At least 300 MW of wind turbines lie unfinished in the fields of Ukraine. If funds are found, all this can be raised and the energy projects can be completed very fast. And there will be funds if the MPs extend the green tariff.

By the way, the cost of energy from renewable sources will be half of that imported from the EU. Therefore, state investments in subsidies for alternative energy clearly make sense, both tactically and strategically. At the same time, the second option does not rule out the first one.

The third source of covering the deficit is to install generating capacities at the facilities of Ukraine’s gas transportation system.

This option will probably be the most useful, these are the manoeuvring capacities desperately needed by our power system for prompt response to the demand. However, three important issues arise.

The first one is that 15 MW or larger units are too visible, posing risks of the enemy targeting the entire site. This danger becomes especially relevant if the transportation of Russian gas to the EU is suspended. Hence, in this context, physical safety of the staff is the main thing.

The second one is that extra volumes of gas are needed, the cost will be too high, and the electricity market indicator does not cover the cost of heat generation even now — producers sustain losses. Therefore, it will be necessary to ease the price restrictions in the "day-ahead" segment of the market.

Thirdly, in order to transmit electricity from the gas transmission system to the grid, it is necessary to regulate the legislative deficiency, which prohibits the system operator from selling any energy resources. If this cannot be done, such generating capacities may only be commissioned by third parties entitled to carry out trading operations.

As an alternative to fixed gas generators (in wartime, for restoration of the power grid, and until stabilisation of the situation in the energy market), it makes sense to consider mobile models on wheeled chassis. Of course, there will be much less power, but this is a workable version of the emergency recovery system, and there is practically no risk: we can place such a device even in a forest. Let me remind you that Ukrtransgaz quite successfully used mobile compressors in due time, which made it possible to save gas (not to siphon it during repairs) by pumping it into a working pipeline. The principle is the same. The owners of such mobile stations may be both traders and electricity producers. 

The fourth source of covering the electricity deficit is ship power plants. Such a tool of stabilizing local energy systems has been known since 1927, when the deficit was first eliminated in the US thanks to the additional generating units of the USS Lexington aircraft carrier. The same method was used several times in Ukraine. However, under the current realities, the first task on the way to implementation of such a project is to finance the produced energy. Such electricity can be bought and sold, using the G7 humanitarian aid mechanism. 

The fifth source to cover the electricity deficit (the most reliable and effective) is to de-occupy the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant and to return under the management of "Energoatom". 

In fact, this will happen in the near future, so keep calm, consume electricity responsibly, and help our glorious Armed Forces of Ukraine.




Maksym Bielawski

Leading Expert, Energy Programmes

Born in 1986 in Zhytomyr oblast


Zhytomyr State Technological University (2008)

Ph.D in Technical Science (2010)

Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas (2012)

Author of 17 patents and 100 scientific works

Work Experience:

2008 – 2011 — Operator of Gas Infrastructure Units, Controller of Gas Transmission System in Rivne Division of PJSC "Ukrtransgas"

2011 – 2017 — Leading Engineer, Deputy Head of Press-Service, Head of Public Relation Department of PJSC "Ukrtransgas"

2017 – 2018 — HR Director of PJSC "Maine Gas Pipelines of Ukraine", Advisor to the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine

2021 — Director of Integrated Communications of NJSC "Naftogaz of Ukraine"