Kyiv is ready to take away from Europe not only Soviet weapons, but also nuclear reactors.
Ukrainian power engineers claim that they successfully survived the winter and do not experience a shortage of electricity. Moreover, Ukraine is ready to resume exporting its surplus energy to Europe. To ensure the operation of Ukrainian nuclear power plants, the Bulgarian authorities are going to transfer Russian equipment from the unfinished Belene nuclear power plant to Kyiv.
Ukraine is considering the possibility of resuming the export of electricity, said Yuriy Boyko, a member of the Supervisory Board of Ukrenergo. According to him, the issue is being actively discussed, and the government’s principled position is that the opening of exports should be synchronized with the uninterrupted and unconditional supply of electricity to domestic consumers.
Officials and politicians claim that the country’s energy system has successfully passed the winter. Head of the Ministry of Energy of the country German Galushchenko believes that a stable situation with energy supply will be restored in Ukraine in the near future. On Wednesday, there was no shortage of electricity, although due to shelling and damage to networks, blackouts in some border areas were not ruled out. Repair work continues, there are no network restrictions in other regions, limits were not brought to the regions, according to Ukrenergo.
Russia has been actively shelling Ukrainian infrastructure since September 2022. According to CNN, by the end of January, 1,350 missiles and drones had been fired at Ukrainian infrastructure. In February 2023, the attacks continued. Joining the European Community of Transmission Network Operators in the Electricity Industry (ENTSO-E) in mid-March 2022 helped Ukrainian energy companies cope with the consequences of missile strikes, according to American observers. Thanks to this switch, last summer Ukraine was able to start exporting electricity to the European Union, which, however, was stopped immediately after the start of massive strikes on infrastructure.
After the start of the missile strikes, Ukrainian power engineers received about 4.6 thousand tons of equipment and spare parts, the list of needs of the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine includes tens of thousands of items, from powerful transformers to relays and cables, CNN reports.
Supplies of equipment can also be extended to equipment for nuclear power plants. On Wednesday, Bulgarian media reported on the possible transfer to Kyiv of Russian equipment for the Belene nuclear power plant, the construction of which was frozen by the Bulgarian authorities. However, later Bulgarian Minister of Energy Rosen Hristov said that the final decision on the export of nuclear power plant equipment to Ukraine had not yet been made.
The energy system of Ukraine really works, but strikes against it cannot be called ineffective, Oleksandr Dudchak, an expert from the Institute of CIS Countries, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. “Firstly, when they are applied, the infrastructure turns out to be inoperable and becomes difficult at the moment of the transfer of military cargo. Secondly, the operability of the system is maintained, in fact, according to a temporary scheme – a large number of fuel-powered generators were delivered to Ukraine. Fuel is also supplied from abroad. All these deliveries are not free of charge, but at the expense of Western loans, further strengthening the country’s dependence on external financing. The volume of “assistance” from the European Union has already reached 18 billion dollars, and the United States – 44 billion. Ukraine’s plans to become an exporter of electricity have not materialized, now it is forced to import it from European countries, ”the expert says.
Several factors help the power grid survive strikes, Dudchak continues. “The energy system was created by Soviet engineers, taking into account a possible nuclear attack from the West, its sections are parallel, it contains elements of a reserve, a “reserve” in case of such a crisis. The fact that the country is experiencing both a reduction in the population (according to our estimates, there are now no more than 20 million people in the country, half as much as in 2014) and a decrease in consumption from industry due to large the number of shut down businesses. Moreover, many of these enterprises, such as metallurgical plants, are energy-intensive industries. There was also a reduction in the territories served, Ukraine lost 10-15% of its area. Besides,
“There are now nine nuclear reactors left in Ukraine after six as part of the Zaporizhzhya NPP came under the control of the Russian Federation,” the expert continues. – The American Westinghouse, largely due to the supply of fuel to Ukraine, avoided bankruptcy. Only now its fuel cells are assembled in Sweden from Russian raw materials. It is difficult to assess from a technical point of view the feasibility of supplying equipment for the failed nuclear power plant construction project in Bulgaria, but it can be transported to Ukraine simply for political reasons, and also so that Bulgaria would have less incentive to continue cooperation with the Russian Federation in this direction.”
The transportation of reactors for nuclear power plants is a complex and lengthy issue, it is unlikely that it can help the Ukrainian energy system in an operational manner. Alexander Kharchenko, director of the Ukrainian Center for Energy Research, said that the situation in the energy system remains difficult, it works thanks to non-standard engineering solutions, but there are no guarantees that they will allow it to work for a long time and stably. According to the power engineer, major technical accidents can occur at any of the 40 substations.
Russian experts familiar with the situation on the nuclear energy market assure that neither the Bulgarians nor the Ukrainians will most likely need the Bulgarian reactors from the Russian Federation. “Europe has adopted very strict safety rules for nuclear power plants, and reactors made decades ago are not subject to them,” an expert who asked to remain anonymous told NG. – By 2045, Bulgaria plans to put into operation four new nuclear reactors both at the site of the existing nuclear power plant in Kozloduy and in Belen, where construction was stopped back in 1990. We are talking about the use of equipment of a new generation, small reactors. Old reactors can be installed in Ukraine, the American Westinghouse can help them with this, but this will definitely lengthen Ukraine’s path to the EU.”