8 Dec 2022 10:41

Impossible for now to fully restore Ukraine's energy system - Zelensky

MOSCOW. Dec 8 (Interfax) - It is currently impossible to completely restore Ukraine's energy system to what it was before the crisis, Ukrainian media quoted President Vladimir Zelensky as saying in a video address on Wednesday.

"I've held a meeting on the stabilization of the energy system and the protection of our power plants. We are constantly increasing the generation and supply of electricity - we are adding more volume every day. But we should not forget that it is now impossible to restore 100% of the energy system as it was before," Zelensky said.

Consequently, scheduled blackouts are continuing in the majority of cities and districts, he said.

"As of this evening, the largest number of blackouts is in Kiev and the Kiev, Lvov, Zhitomir, Khmelnitsky, Poltava, Vinnitsa, and Transcarpathia regions," the president said.

Meanwhile, Ukrenergo grid operator CEO Vladimir Kudritsky said that Ukraine's power grid is still working despite taking major damage.

"Ukraine is facing a large shortage of generating capacity," Ukrainian media quoted Kudritsky as saying on Wednesday at a Ukraine stabilization and recovery meeting arranged by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

"We see that consumption is down between 25% and 30% compared to what it was before the crisis. There is quite a serious shortage of generating capacity," he said.

Even after it has been restored, the energy system cannot fully need Ukraine's electricity needs, which is why both household consumers and businesses are being disconnected from the grid, he said.

"The world does not have a large stockpile of sophisticated electrical equipment. We are holding talks with hundreds of companies worldwide to get everything that is available to us as soon as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, the process of procuring such equipment requires funding, Kudritsky said.

"We look forward to finalizing a new deal with the EBRD in the near future, and this deal will help strengthen our ability to purchase equipment at affordable prices," he said.       

The second key element of the plan to maintain the country's energy supply is to form a financing mechanism that will facilitate electricity imports from the European Union, Kudritsky said.

"Due to the difference in electricity prices in Ukraine and Europe, it is necessary to develop a special mechanism to be ready to buy electricity at European prices," he said.

As reported, Ukrenergo received a loan of 300 million euros from the EBRD and a grant of 72 million euros from the Netherlands to repair damaged power infrastructure and to improve the company's financial stability.

Ukrenergo said 150 million euros of the loan and the 72-million-euro grant from the Nerherlands would be invested in purchasing equipment needed to repair damaged substations. The remaining 150 million euros of EBRD funds will help replenish Ukrenergo's operating assets and will be allocated for the company's financial obligations in the electricity market in terms of non-payments that arose on the market due to the crisis.

Prior to that, the EBRD had repurposed nearly 150 million euros in existing grid development loans to maintain the company's liquidity.

Power supply in Kiev has increased by 7% over the past 24 hours, but emergency blackouts are still continuing, Ukrainian media outlets quoted Yasno power supplier CEO Sergei Kovalenko as saying in a social media post.

"About 70% of residential buildings' needs are being met, but emergency blackouts are continuing for now," Kovalenko said on Wednesday evening.

The energy system's available capacity in Kiev on Tuesday stood at 62%-67% of the normal consumption levels, Ukrainian media said, citing Kovalenko.

Approximately 30% of the electricity needs of consumers on the left bank of Kiev are being met at the moment, because a local power generating facility is currently under repair, he said.

Since the grids of other generating facilities are overloaded, they cannot supply a sufficient amount of electricity to the capital's left-bank districts.

Meanwhile, a large number of local breakdowns in the grid have been caused by the incorrect use of electricity, Kovalenko said.

The system that had been built for years in order to operate stably was not geared to cope with such a large number of startups and shutdowns, which is why it cannot totally cope with the increase in the load, he said.

DTEK company executive director Dmitry Sakharuk, for his part, believes that the capacity shortage being recorded in the energy system after it was damaged will persist until the end of March or early April.

"Unfortunately, there will not be enough generating capacity till the end of March even after everything is repaired. Therefore, we will have to live with [consumption curbs] schedules until the end of the fall-winter season. It can be explained with the high demand for electricity and the limited capabilities to generate it," Ukrainian media quoted Sakharuk as telling the Suspilne. News media outlet on Wednesday.    

When speaking about the pace of repairing generating and distribution facilities damaged on December 5, the DTEK top manager said that it would take another week or ten days to restore the previous level of supplies.

However, the situation varies in different parts of the country, he said.

It is possible to tackle emergency blackouts only by increasing power generation and improving the capability to distribute it, Sakharuk said.