Ukraine update: generation sufficient, network damaged

Energy supply for the Ukraine population is now a ‘battlefield’ in the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and we expect that to continue”, said Maksim Timchenko, chief executive of energy company DTeek, in an update. Although thermal generating capacity is still in operation network damage has required rolling blackouts.
Russia has been targeting both power stations, especially hydropower stations, and network infrastructure. It has damaged substations within Ukraine’s 750kV ‘backbone’, Timchenko said. With most of the available power generating capacity in the west of the country, lack of transmission capacity has required rolling blackouts in northern and central areas. Timchenko said despite the lack of power from the Zaparozhe nuclear station (Ukraine’s largest) at present there is enough thermal capacity to supply customers – if power can be transmitted. He said coal stocks had been fallen because coal-fired stations had been used more heavily but some mining was continuing. Gas stocks remain sufficient for the winter – not least because the warm October meant demand was 30% lower than expected. Ukraine is taking the opportunity of a period of lower gas prices to top up gas in storage and it is planning to combine it with coal generation to maintain coal stocks.
The immediate problem is to replace or repair transmission assets, as well as reinstate low voltage networks in areas recovered by Ukraine. That issue is exacerbated by the nature of the Ukrainian electricity grid, which was largely built several decades ago. Because it uses Soviet technology, it may not be compatible with western offerings although smaller components are interchangeable. Although there are network equipment manufacturers in Ukraine they are centred in Zaparozhe region, Timchenko said, so “we can’t rely on them” and he repeated requests for neighbouring countries to send used and new equipment.