July 15. 2024. 7:28

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Industry and government leaders eye renewables as basis for Ukrainian reconstruction


Political decision-makers and business leaders met at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin on 11-12 June, where they focused on renewable energy as a key solution to secure Kyiv’s electricity supply.

Between October 2022 and April 2023, Russia launched 1,200 attacks on Ukraine’s energy system, shutting down half of the country’s energy production and plunging more than 12 million people into darkness.

The damage is estimated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at nearly $6.5 billion (€6 billion).

Before the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine had electricity generation capacity of around 50GW, similar to Germany. Today the country has only 9GW, which is not enough provide households, hospitals, schools and industries with regular electricity.

The Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC24) provided an opportunity to outline Ukraine’s future energy policy, as well as the country’s needs and strategy for guaranteeing its electricity supply during the conflict.

Renewable energy as a means of defence

The conference focused on the resilience and security aspects of renewable energy, where Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck, explained “renewable energies also have a safety aspect. One nuclear power plant is an easy target, 10,000 solar panels are more difficult to shoot”.

The idea is to produce easily repairable and decentralised wind and solar power, capable of supplying electricity anywhere, at low cost.

Maksym Bevz, team leader for campaigns on renewable energies and the green reconstruction of Ukraine for Razom We Stand, told Euractiv that for a power generation site, “if a rocket flies there, replacing a few solar panels is not a difficult task” but “if it is a coal-fired generator, it is beyond repair.”

Barriers to deployment

In 2021, only 8.1% of the electricity produced in Ukraine was renewable.

In order to enable the installation of wind turbines and solar panels across the whole of Ukraine, up to $15 billion (€13.84 billion) would have to be invested to launch the country’s energy transition, base on national power grid operator Ukrenergo.

However, according to Bevz, “state funding for renewables has never been started”.

He points to problems with how Ukraine’s energy market is structured, arguing that “the systems in the regions remain in the hands of monopolies that claim to be the new decentralised energy market.”

The Ukrainian green energy specialist added that “some communities are trying to create new microgrids with aid and grants, but the lack of a legal framework does not provide transparent answers for the operation of such decentralised generators.”

A major need for aid

Since spring 2023, Ukraine has been rebuilding its electricity installations with donations, loans and investments from a wide range of governments, multilateral donors and private sector sources.

Stressing the importance of rebuilding the country’s energy system, Ukraine’s Energy Minister, German Galushchenko, described during the Ukraine Recovery Conference that energy equipment is a “weapon for winning the war.”

At the beginning of July 2023, Ukraine received 8,000 tonnes of Western equipment via the Ukraine Support Task Force (USTF). The EU coordinated the delivery of specialist equipment to repair damaged infrastructure, as well as 5,500 generators.

In addition, the United States, via USAID, has provided $475 million (€438 million) in emergency aid, including 3,600 generators, 85 kilometres of steel pipes to repair heating systems and a 28 MW mobile power plant.

Apart from the objective of planning reconstruction, the Ukraine Recovery Conference offered investors the opportunity to potentially invest in Ukraine’s emerging renewable energy market.

Read more with Euractiv

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