Will there be a blackout? How Ukrainian energy companies prepared for the winter

November 16, 2023

Ukraine has better air defences this year than last winter. However, the overall power capacity of the United Energy System has decreased due to the inflicted damage.

Razumkov Centre Energy Programmes Director Volodymyr Omelchenko says that Russia destroyed or damaged almost 50% of our generating capacities. According to him, not everything could be repaired in such a short time.

How well protected are the energy facilities?

We should not be afraid of winter, but prepare for it. Fear is destructive. This year we have better air defences because our partners helped us with this. We have built up not only active, but also passive protection, — says Volodymyr Omelchenko.

According to him, over the key energy infrastructure facilities:

  • sufficient reinforced concrete structures were built;
  • in some cases, sandbags and anti-drone nets were installed to protect the equipment.

Of course, this will not save from a direct missile hit, but there were only 1–2% of such cases, and it provides good protection against debris from missiles and drones.

"Today, we are better prepared in terms of active and passive defence than last year. Ukraine has gained great experience in how to respond in such circumstances. Our energy engineers have developed a certain algorithm of actions to relieve the system during such strikes," says Razumkov Centre's energy programmes director.

Are energy companies ready for the winter?

Volodymyr Omelchenko assured that almost all energy companies have done a lot of work, so they enter the winter period as prepared as possible. According to him:

  • 8 out of 9 power units of Energoatom are operational, the last one will join the club soon;
  • DTEK repaired all 20 of the planned units;
  • Ukrhydroenergo and Ukrenergo performed all planned works;
  • Naftogaz has made sufficient reserves of natural gas, the storage facilities contain approximately 16 BCM. This is enough to pass the autumn-winter period without problems.

However, he added that not everything is okay at the state-owned Centrenergo company as at private enterprises. Centrenergo made fewer repairs, they lack coal.

...But the company head says that they are solving these problems. Again, due to the coal shortage, Naftogaz has to use natural gas, which is much more expensive. In addition, the payment for it is poor. This creates additional major financial problems for Naftogaz, — says the director of energy programmes.

Will the lights be turned off for Ukrainians?

Volodymyr Omelchenko said that our power industry does not have enough capacities now. Therefore, Ukraine enters the winter with a deficit.

Last year, the surplus made approximately 30% of capacities, now in November, we cover all our needs. However, the total power capacity of the United Energy System has decreased due to the destruction or damage of almost 50% of the generating facilities. Not everything could be repaired in such a short time.

Even in absence of attacks on the energy infrastructure, a power deficit of up to 2 GW is expected in certain hours in winter, during frosty weather (below –5 – –7°C). This means that there will be planned outages. In order to minimize them, it is necessary to create the necessary model of electricity imports for Ukraine, — says Omelchenko.

He elaborated that Ukraine can cover about 1.2 GW, or approximately 50% of the expected deficit during peak hours in winter, at the expense of imports.

Therefore, the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission (NEURC) made a decision to optimize the so-called price cap — maximum prices for electricity. This will produce economic incentives to import electricity and cover the expected deficit of capacities to minimize the planned outages.

However, the approved price caps are not sufficient. NEURC has not learned to counter anti-competitive manifestations with market tools yet.


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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