Ukrainian energy minister on how war affecting energy production
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Speaking via video link to the International Energy Agency (IEA) conference in Denmark, German Galushchenko laid bare the devastating effects the horrific war is having not only on the Ukrainian people, but its power grid as well. He told European ministers that efforts to repair the country’s infrastructure when the war was over “will demand huge efforts in investment”.
His optimism echoes that of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has repeatedly indicated his confidence that Ukraine will triumph over Russia.
Vladimir Putin’s military stalled in the initial phase of the invasion, and has since appeared to revise its aim from one of complete occupation to the annexation of the eastern Donbas region.
However, in the south of the country, Russian forces have occupied the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – after dangerous and widely-condemned shelling of the site.
According to the Nuclear Energy Agency’s latest information, only two of the station’s six reactors are still connected to the grid.
Russian forces also attempted to take the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, but transferred control back to Ukrainian authorities at the end of March, the International Atomic Energy Agency said at the time.
In the opening days of the conflict, the invading forces targeted a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Other installations have also reportedly been hit.
Mr Galushchenko mourned that the Russian attacks had caused “a lot of losses, unfortunately, in the staff of our energy sector”.
He added: “The aggressive war Russia is waging against our country will leave our structure badly damaged.
“In some territory, [it is] completely ruined. We will need to rebuild.”
Such an effort “will demand huge efforts in investment, and at the same time it will become an opportunity to reshape the Ukrainian energy sector”.
The Ukrainian energy minister continued: “Therefore we should build the energy sector as it must be in Europe, to try to be climate neutral by 2050.”
Mr Galushchenko said he wanted an ambitious “accelerated roll-out of renewables”, noting the “huge progress” Ukraine had made towards clean energy.
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At present, the nation’s energy mix is already constituted with around 70 percent carbon-free fuel sources, including a mix of nuclear power and renewable sources.
Though renewables make up just a small proportion of that total – Ukraine relying on its many Soviet-era nuclear power plants, including Zaporizhzhya – Mr Galushchenko hopes Ukraine can increase its renewable sources to a quarter of its energy consumption by 2030.
While Ukraine is eager to follow in the rest of Europe’s footsteps when it comes to sustainable energy production, many other European nations are desperately trying to wean themselves off Russian gas and oil.
The EU receives around 40 percent of its natural gas supply from Russia, but has vowed to cut its dependence down to nothing by 2030.
As some of the largest Russian fuel producers are state-owned, Mr Galushchenko stated: “We know that the Russian war machine is fuelled by income from fossil exports.
“That is why the embargo on Russian gas and oil is essential for saving lives and bringing peace back to Europe.”
Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, described the Ukrainian minister’s “bravery” as “a source of inspiration for all of us”.
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