Ukraine is one step away from the global energy revolution

Sergey Savchuk

While the general Russian public was smoothly entering the new year and from bright, comfortable apartments wished victory for our military in the NVO zone, from the opposite side of the contact line they practically made a jump into the future. The prime minister of our southwestern neighbor said at the last cabinet meeting that Ukraine will build low-capacity power plants, which will create a decentralized energy system. At the same time, according to the plan of the Kyiv managers, new generation facilities will be implemented in the existing energy system. Also, the head of the Ukrainian government noted, much larger investments are required in their own gas production in order to increase the volume of domestic production.
Here one could laugh that the energy system of Ukraine will exist only as long as the Russian military command will allow it, but we will not. The idea of the so-called energy downshifting, that is, moving away from the construction of large generation facilities towards small and medium-sized power plants, has been floating around for a long time, actively inflated within the current liberal agenda by all kinds of politicians and pseudo-scientific fighters for the environment. Since another exclamation in this case was made from Ukraine, let’s consider on its example the reality of the implementation of such, without a doubt, a revolutionary project for the transformation of the national energy supply. Moreover, Ukraine today is a testing ground where not only military and information technologies are tested, but also many other technologies.
Let’s start with a purely infrastructural aspect.
At the end of 2021, the Ukrainian energy system was rightfully considered one of the most powerful in the European part of the continent. Naturally, all this is the achievement of Soviet industry and state planning, because independent Ukrainians built absolutely nothing in this sector.
At that time, four nuclear power plants were in operation: Rivne, South Ukraini-an, Khmelnitsky and the infamous Zaporozhye NPP today. The total installed capacity of fifteen reactors was estimated at 13.5 gigawatts, and the share of nuclear electricity in the country’s energy balance put Ukraine in second place after France.
The lion’s share was also contributed by the main laborers of generation – local thermal power plants (TPPs), in total there were fifteen of them. These are Uglegorskaya, Zaporozhy, Burshtynskaya, Kriv-orozhskaya, Zmievskaya, Starobeshevskaya, Trip-olskaya, Ladyzhinskaya, Kurakhovskaya, Zueska-ya, Luganskaya, Pridne-provskaya, Slavyanskaya, Dobrotvorskaya and Mironovskaya thermal power plants. All of them, without exception, worked on coal, and such grades as G (gas), ASh (anthracite coal) and T (skinny), that is, exactly the nomenclature that is mined within the borders of the Donetsk coal basin. For this, Ukraine should also thank the Soviet system, so hated by it, because when designing the republican energy systems, Moscow proceeded from the availability of a resource base with a minimum logistical shoulder.
It is not for nothing that we called coal-fired thermal power plants hard workers. Their turbines and boilers poured into the general network about 28 gigawatts, that is, twice as much as their nuclear counterparts. Here it is also necessary to mention the fact that 12 of the stations listed above are in one form or another part of the business empire of the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, which means that the latter actually holds both the population and the government by the throat, manipulating prices and supplies as you please.
Ukraine is a full-flowing country, therefore there is also a hydropower sector, namely, in 1991, Kiev received 11 hydroelectric power plants (HPPs) as a legacy from the USSR. Among them are Dneprovskaya, Dniesterskaya (pumped storage and two cascades in Nagoryany and Novodnestrovsk), Kanevskaya, Kakhovskaya, Kyiv (PSPP plus a power turbine unit in Vyshgorod), Kremenchugskaya, Tashlykovskaya and the very tiny Tereblya-Rikskaya hydroelectric power station in Transcarpathia. Another six gigawatts with a ponytail in the common piggy bank.
But that’s not all.
Twenty-one combined heat and power plants (CHP) also contributed, which, in addition to performing the main function, that is, heating and distributing water, also generated electricity along the way. In the volume of another 6.5 gigawatts. There are also four wind and seven solar power plants in the remnants, but their production in the overall balance is so negligible that mentioning them is just a waste of time.
In total, at the time of the beginning of the NWO, Ukraine had a single operating energy system with a total capacity of about 51 gigawatts.
According to the national operator Ukrenergo, in 2021, the country produced 156 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, of which more than half came from nuclear power plants. There is no contradiction here with what was said above. Kyiv, in full agreement with the local oligarchic group, deliberately squeezed all possible production juices from nuclear power plants. The reason is extremely simple – nuclear electricity is the cheapest, in the same 2021 in Ukraine it was on average two times cheaper than coal and gas. Zelensky’s team, under the guise of “Russia’s aggression”, not only increased prices for the population many times over, but also sharply increased exports during the period of peak prices. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine reported that in the period from January to October 2021, the proceeds from the sale of electricity abroad was $326.9 million, and in 2022, that is, in the midst of hostilities, it was already $542.5 million. The main buyers were Poland, Slovakia and Romania. As they say, to whom is war, and to whom is mother dear.
It is almost impossible to assess the current state of the Ukrainian generation, since Kyiv has introduced the strictest censorship and secrets any profile data. At the same time, the tricks used by the local military and power engineers are additionally noted. According to unverified information, piles of combustible materials like tires and oiled rags are laid out near the still operating thermal power plants and thermal power plants, which are set on fire (especially) if the Ukrainian air defense managed to shoot down the Russian “Caliber” or “Geran”. This is done in order to mislead the Russian command by simulating the defeat of the object while it is actually intact.
Kyiv itself gives an indirect assessment. For example, the head of the board of Ukrenergo, Volodymyr Kudrytsky, recently described the extent of damage as unprecedented. Of course, this should be taken with a fair amount of skepticism, but the same Denys Shmygal urges Ukrainians to reduce electricity consumption by at least 25 percent, otherwise he threatens them with total and protracted blackouts.
Let’s take it for granted that today, to one degree or another, from a third to a half of Ukrainian generation and distribution facilities have been damaged, with the exception of nuclear power plants, which the Russian General Staff does not include in principle in the list of targets for strikes. If we assume in theory that the line of contact will freeze for an indefinite period, no one even mentions the idea that attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure will stop. That is, missiles will fly, stations and substations will burn, local repairmen will restore and mask them, but the overall damage will increase. Simply because Kyiv does not even think about negotiations, moreover, it behaves extremely boorishly.
Now back to the main topic of our conversation.
Let’s define terms.
Power plants with a capacity of up to 25 megawatts are considered small, while each power unit must have a capacity of no more than ten megawatts. The concept of an average power plant is rather vague; by default, all generation facilities in the power range above small, but below nuclear power are recorded in this category. That is, up to 400-500 megawatts.
We will immediately discard all kinds of renewable energy sources (renewable energy sources), since only a funeral team can build them as part of saving the country. The construction of coal and gas thermal power plants and thermal power plants was put on stream by China, where, according to rumors, physicists and power engineers managed to bring boilers to an ultra-supercritical level, and they have an efficiency of up to 60 percent. The problem is that interstate relations between Ukraine and China are at the bottom and show no signs of life. This was facilitated by total decommunization and the actual persecution of people even for wearing clothes with Soviet paraphernalia, to which the Chinese leadership is extremely sensitive. The final point was put by the scandal with Motor Sich, when the deal that had already taken place by direct order from Washin-gton canceled, and the Chi-nese owners were simply thrown, in simple terms, for a very large amount.
Small – scale power generation is developing rapidly in Russia. Few people know that about 20 million people (that is, more than half of the population of Ukraine, if compared) in our country live in areas not covered by the central power supply. The light in these houses is provided by those same small stations, the scale of construction of which is slowly but steadily growing. For example, today, beyond the Urals, under the BOT contract (build-operate-transfer) scheme, a number of small thermal power plants and thermal power plants are being built, and several commissioned ones are already operating with a load of up to 95 percent. It is clear that Kyiv will never ask us for help, so we also reject this option.
Turkey has achieved great success in the middle segment. Local kulibins came up with a simple but effective concept, when a gas turbine and a tank for liquefied gas are installed on a watercraft. As a result, such an “electric barge” with a capacity of about 300-350 megawatts can be fitted to any island where it makes no sense to pull an overhead power line. Ankara is already selling such stations with might and main and will gladly offer them to Kiev. The only problem is that Ukraine is a very “deep” country, from the southern sea edge to, for example, Sumy, about 500 kilometers. You can’t stretch the wire for such a distance, but at the moment there is no experience of river-based Turkish floating thermal power plants.
America, beloved by Ukrainians, will not help either. No prejudice, just the bare facts.
The Americans really managed to “green” and increase the generation capacity within their country, but this did not happen due to new developments and the construction of fundamentally new facilities, but solely due to the transfer of the army from coal stations to natural gas. The latter appeared in abundance after the so-called shale revolution, when there was so much blue fuel that the US completely covered its own needs and began to export it.
In Ukraine, the situation with gas production is rotten.
In 2013, when Arseniy Yatsenyuk promised an ocean of his own gas for $50 on air, Ukraine’s own production was 21.4 billion cubic meters. By 2021, thanks to all the achievements of the Maidan, it has grown negatively to 19.8 billion. Even if consumption is steadily falling (30 billion cubic meters in 2020 and 27 billion in 2021), this type of fuel is still categorically lacking, moreover, deposits in the Black Sea, where it was planned to produce about ten billion cubic meters per year.
The European Union does not build or develop new generation power plants at all, mercilessly exploiting the remaining nuclear, gas and coal ones, experimenting with wind, tides and the sun along the way. As a result, prices for all categories of consumers stubbornly climbed up long before February last year, and in especially successful cases, certain areas and reg-ions plunged into primordial darkness and coolness.
What Shmyhal’s government is counting on is absolutely incomprehensible, especially given the fact that Ukraine is currently bankrupt. Even Vladimir Zelensky admits this, endlessly demanding the next tranches of financial assistance. However, no one mentions that this assistance is not free of charge and the loans received in the form of guns and banknotes will have to be repaid, and even with interest. However, what kind of fairy tales you can not tell your fellow citizens, just to stay in power and keep your hands inside these very cash flows. It is strange that the Ukrainian prime minister did not promise to hold an international chess tournament in Vasyuki, the truthfulness would be approximately the same.