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Zelenskyy’s administration calls situation in energy sector a controlled one: What is really happening

President Zelenskyy chaired a meeting of the energy headquarters. Photo: Office of the President

President Zelenskyy chaired a meeting of the energy headquarters. Photo: Office of the President

In Ukraine, the situation with the heating season is controlled. The President's Office made this conclusion following a meeting of the energy coordination headquarters. The senior officials made strong statements, but the energy market experts are less optimistic.

For instance, Olha Buslavets, the former head of the Ministry of Energy, notes that with a decrease in the average daily air temperature, electricity consumption increases. During the last working week, consumption fluctuated from 16.2 GW at night to 22.6 GW in the evening peak. The generation capacity of TPPs ranges from 3.4 to 6.8 GW. NPPs operated with an average load of 12.4 GW (last year during this period it was only 9.3 GW), and CHP plants, despite the extra charge for the additional service, operate with an average capacity of only 1.5 GW, which is 40% less than last year.

"I hope that it will be possible to compensate for the lack of generation by permitting the transfer of some of the coal-fired thermal power plants to gas—this issue is now being resolved," Buslavets posts. But she adds that it is not clear where the gas will be taken from in the required volume.

Thermal coal situation

Coal reserves at TPP warehouses since the beginning of December have increased by 15% and by the morning of December 17 amounted to 447,000 tons. At the same time, they increased by 28% at the stations of the DTEK company, by 15%—at Donbasenergo, and they decreased by 11% at the state-owned Centrenergo.

This week, two vessels brought to Ukraine 131,000 tons of coal for DTEK and one vessel was for Centrenergo.

The media published the SSU letter to the Cabinet of Ministers. It states that Ukraine is one step away from stopping heat generating enterprises that provide heating to the entire regions because of the critically low coal reserves.

Top energy news of the week

After the maximum import of electricity from Belarus with a capacity of 861 MW on December 11, imports this week decreased more than tenfold. But on December 17, the volume of 870 MW was planned.

The Cabinet of Ministers approved the procedure and conditions for providing subventions to the local budgets to cover the difference in heat tariffs and pay off the debt to Naftogaz.

The government also instructed the relevant authorities to take measures to ensure the safety of the electricity supply during the autumn-winter period and break-even activities for its production at TPPs and CHPPs in the event of their transition to gas combustion.

In response, on December 17, National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission (NEURC) determined how TPPs and CHPPs, if necessary, can replace coal with natural gas. "The use of such generating equipment of thermal power plants, in particular, Luhansk TPP, will help prevent crises in the energy system of Ukraine and will serve as an additional measure for the stable going through of the current heating season," the regulator's decision states.

Also on December 17, NEURC certified Ukrenergo as an operator of a European-style transmission system. This decision paves the way for the official membership in the ENTSO-E organization and the connection of the Ukrainian energy system with the European one, which is planned for 2023.

Weather factor

The energy situation in Ukraine can become much more difficult with the onset of cold weather.

It is expected that on December 19-20, the Arctic cold from the Russian Northern Urals will begin to spread rapidly across most of Europe. The peak of cold weather will be on December 21-22. In Ukraine, frost is expected up to -15 °C.

Fortunately, freezing weather will not be accompanied by the heavy snowfalls. Light snow is expected on December 25-27 when frosts begin to recede.

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