Ukraine has no other choice: modular combined heat and power plants as the solution to the energy crisis

Modular combined heat and power plants provide additional stability to Ukraine's energy system and backup heat supply, although their installation is expensive and requires much time and investment. In the current conditions of power shortage, Ukraine does not have much choice, so using all possible generation methods is a necessary step.

Volodymyr Omelchenko, director of energy programmes at Razumkov Centre, said this in an interview for the Ukrainian Radio. "We are now in a situation that we don't have much of a choice. That is, we have to pool all possible generation into the system, because with such a large deficit as we have in the system now — in winter it is expected to reach 15 GW, maybe even more — we have to deal with distributed generation and repair thermal generation capacities, despite their environmental pollution. Now we have nothing to choose from," said Omelchenko.

Importance of mini CHPPs

Mini CHPPs perform an important function in the power system, producing both electrical and thermal energy. This makes it possible to provide back-up heat supply in case of damage to large CHP plants, which is especially important during military operations. "We need to play it safe because anything can happen," Omelchenko emphasized. A mini CHPP can be easily moved to the place experiencing be the greatest shortage of thermal energy in winter. 

At the moment, the expert noted, there is no capacity deficit in the energy system, thanks to the resumption of operation of two NPP power units after repairs. However, repairs go on, and hourly power outages may resume as early as next week. Omelchenko predicts that the duration of such outages will increase in July.

Plans and their implementation

In Kyiv, it is planned to install six mini CHPPs in sleeper neighbourhoods on the right and left banks of the Dnieper. This decision is not new and is also implemented in other cities, such as Kharkiv. However, it is important to know what capacity these mini CHPPs will have, because this will affect their efficiency.

Omelchenko emphasized that even additional 100–150 MW will not significantly change the situation in Kyiv. However, the overall increase in generation will have a positive effect on all regions.

Challenges and difficulties

Installation of a mini CHPP with a capacity of 3 to 30 MW takes at least 6–8 months. This process includes not only the procurement of equipment but also design, installation and engineering works, which requires significant funds. In addition, it is necessary to provide fuel for the power plant operation, which is expensive in Ukraine. This makes heat generation from natural gas not always profitable.

International assistance is important for the implementation of mini CHPP projects. Omelchenko says that a German delegation came to Razumkov Centre to study the possibility of helping Ukraine acquire small gas power plants. USAID is also active in this area, which is important in the current conditions. However, the process is not quick, as it requires much time and investment.

As OBOZ.UA previously reported, the Ukrainian energy system will face deficit in the summer: Ukrainians have passed the lowest point of electricity consumption, so it will only increase in the future. The hardest time will come in July — in that month, the highest consumption is expected, while generation will decline.

Volodymyr Omelchenko

Director, Energy Programmes

Born in 1967 in Kyiv

Education: Kyiv Politechnic Institute, Department of Chemical Engineering (1992)

Author of over 50 scientific works and op-ed publications. Took part in development and implementation of international energy projects and scientific research in international energy policy


1992 – 1996 — worked in different positions in the mechanical engineering industry

1997 – 1998 — Head Expert of the Division of Oil, Gas and Petroleum Refining Industry of the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine

1998 – 2003 — Naftohaz Ukrayiny National Joint-Stock Company, in Charge of Oil Transportation Section

2004 – 2007 — Chief Consultant at the National Institute of International Security Problems of Ukraine’s NSDC

since February, 2007 — Leading Expert, Razumkov Centre. Director of Energy Programmes since 2013

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