The events at theUglegorsk thermal power plant set the whole country in turmoil. The accident has been handled, but the plant itself requires now urgent overhaul to be finished before the next heating season. In this respect, experts and specialists recalled the problems of our energy industry and ways to solve them. ForUm has tried to understand the risks of existing energy system and its further development.


Analysts note that the accident at the Uglegorsk thermal power plant will have long-term negative consequences for the environment and people. Thus, head of the National ecology center Yaroslav Movchan informs that the fire at the plant lasted for more than 15 hours and destroyed all equipment, including four high-voltage transformers with 40 tons of oil in each one. "Uncontrolled burning of coal fuel, various constructions and equipment resulted into discharge of many toxic substances to the atmosphere, including heavy metals, sulfur compounds and organic matters, which do not dissolve in nature but accumulate in soil. Ash dust contaminates the soil and waters, worsening the ecologic situation in the region," he says. In turn, head of the state ecology inspection of Donetsk region Vitaly Vyshnevski warns about risks of contamination of environment with water used for extinguishing the fire. At the same time, no contamination of Uglegorsk reservoir with petroleum and oil products was registered. Anyway, the Cabinet assures the neutralization of negative consequences is already in process.

However, accidents at Ukrainian power plants prove that the traditional power system brings risks. Moreover, head of the board of directors of the "Kyivenergo" company Ivan Plachko points out that the restoration of similar objects may cost billions of dollars. In case of inadequacy of filter systems, relative cheapness of coal energy may cause significant losses on on-site pollution and increase morbidity rate among the population.

Defects of the existing power system also manifest in the system of power lines. Thus, in April accidents happened at two out of four power lines, supplying Crimea with electricity, which caused complete blackout in Sevastopol city. "This case, as well as the fire at the Uglegorsk thermal power plant, reminds us about the necessity to introduce alternative sources of energy," co-chairman of the Fund for energy strategies Dmytro Marunich says. "Experience of advanced European countries, which use renewable energy for electricity supplies and heating, proves that alternative sources of energy help to save great amount of gas, oil and coal. It is very important in the view of strengthening of energy, and consequently, political independence."

Help from abroad

According to Marunich, world investments in renewable energy projects made $268.7 billion in 2012, which was 60% of all investments into new energy capacities. The latest research of the International Energy Agency says that the "green" sector will keep growing for the next five years. Despite the economic uncertainly in many regions of the world, global capacities of alternative energy (water, solar and wind powers) are expected to grow by 40% by 2017.

In particular, in Europe they try to being the share of renewable energy to 20%  by 2020. On Ukrainian market, though, this share makes less than 1%. One of the most popular myths is that the price of electricity constantly grows along with an increase in the share of renewable sources, but representative of the analytical center Agora Energiewende (Germany) Christoph Podewils states that practice shows that it’s not the case. "Germany has been developing alternative energy for quite some time now, and large consumers now pay for electricity 30% less than in 2011.  Price fall became more noticeable after the decision to give up nuclear energy and re-orientate to renewable sources. Higher demand causes higher competition, which in turn lowers the price, while the most expensive power plants are those that consume gas and crude oil." Thus, development of alternative power generation will enable to make cheaper electricity in Ukraine and to reduce GDP energy intensity.

Representative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Jurgen Keinhorst adds that Ukraine should cut state investment support for traditional energy carriers and introduce temporary subsidies for development of renewable resources. "State support of traditional power generations makes it difficult for the green energy market to develop," the official says. "German government is now holding talks with a number of Ukrainian ministries on realization of energy efficiency projects. Our country is ready to share successful experience  in this sphere and to help with attracting investors for pilot projects in Ukraine."

Good beginning

In fact, domestic sector of renewable energy already has something to demonstrate. Thus, in 2012 the capacity of "green" power generation increased by 57.5% and reached 645.1 megawatt, and production of alternative electric energy grew by 2.2 times - up to 815.9 million kWh, member of the board of directors of the Institute for energy strategies Yuri Korolchuk notes. There are 86 companies and 139 power plants working in this sector an developing solar and wind power. In 2012 the share of renewable resources in the  electric power balance reached 0.45% (0.22% in 2011), and by 2020 Ukraine pledges to increase the share up to 11%.

According to Korolchuk, about three billion dollars have been invested in solar and wind power plants for the last three years. "We can do even better. Ukraine has already introduced attractive tariffs for alternative energy and intends to provide possibilities for production of new relevant equipment on its territory. For two years Ukraine has been giving special "green subsidies" for enterprises developing solar and wind power plants and mini water power plants." Moreover,  Ernst&Young audit company has included Ukraine in the list of countries, most attractive for "green investments". Our country is the only one among CIS states included in the list, mainly  thanks to large solar power plants, constructed by Activ Solar company.

There is no surprise that EBRD has announced plans to invest 10 million euro into our domestic alternative power system. Danford&Co enterprise (Russia) also intends to invest 12 million euro in the realization of a joint project on the creation of an energy park with a full green energy production cycle in Ivano-Frankivsk region with AgroEnergoTechnologies LLC (Tysmenytsia district of Ivano-Frankivsk region). According to Managing Director of Danford&Co Vladimir Kutsevoy, the project foresees that energy crops will be cultivated on an area of up to 2,000 hectares and other biomass will be used as an alternative source for producing biogas, power, heat and organic fertilizers.

In turn, Czech group of companies Ekotechnik Czech is ready to invest up to 400 million euro in the construction of a number of solar power plants of total capacity of 160 megawatt in Khmelnitsk region. The plants will be constructed in 14 districts of the region. Similar plants are expected to be built also in Vinnytsya, Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zakarpattya regions.

Moreover, Korolchuk points out that in 2013 producers will be required to purchase and use equipment of domestic production. "There are many enterprises in Ukraine producing equipment for renewable power systems. Such requirement will bring more orders for local producers and will motivate foreigners to invest into production on our territory," the specialist explains.

In this context we remind that this spring the Cabinet received 30 million euro from Spain for realization of alternative energy projects in Ukraine. The preliminary list of projects include production and supply of heat and electricity through biogas recovery by recycling animal organic waste; modernization of thermal power plants in Sevastopol; building pof wind plants to create an autonomous wind farm for energy supply of the Dniprovsky Machine Building Plant, methane collection and electricity production in Lysychansk, Dniprodzerzhynsk Enerhodar, Berdiansk and Melitopol. Ukraine also has similar "Kyoto Protocol" cooperation  with Japan to implement innovative projects in the country: means from selling quotas for greenhouse gas emissions will be used for purchasing modern energy efficient technologies and equipment.

Summing up, Ukraine's system of renewable power sources has rather bright future. All parties are interested in development of this sector, including the state, market, investors and even consumers who fear possible price rise. However, the world practice proves that the development of alternative power generation reduces prices for energy, which means we have nothing to worry about.

Andriy Boyarunets


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