Green Reconstruction of Ukraine’s Energy System: (Un)Timely?

September 3, 2023
Even though the war is still ongoing, Ukraine is preparing for its post-war reconstruction. Green reconstruction of the energy system is one of Ukraine's top priorities.
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What are the prospects and challenges for Ukraine's green energy sector? Is it possible to begin reconstruction before the war is over? UkraineWorld asked Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, the Head of the Energy Department at the Centre of Environmental Initiatives “Ecoaction".

What is the 'Green Energy Reconstruction' in Ukraine?

Since the start of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine has been subjected to continuous Russian missile attacks. Some towns and cities have been completely destroyed, while others have been damaged. Energy facilities have been one of the main targets of Russian attacks, necessitating extensive reconstruction.

Green energy reconstruction has two components: technical and political. In terms of technology, it makes no sense to reconstruct infrastructure as it was, because those technologies date back to the Soviet era.

Ukraine requires the use of modern, energy-efficient technologies. The primary goal of green energy reconstruction is more decentralised generation based on renewables at the community level.

Energy reconstruction is a component of the overall reconstruction system. Thus, applying new building standards for rebuilding the social and civil facilities is an essential component. Ukraine should strive for zero-energy construction standards.

The EU currently has nearly zero-energy construction standards, with the move to zero-energy construction standards soon to follow. For Ukraine, applying the newest standards is the best solution, particularly in terms of its Eurointegration process.

In terms of politics, green reconstruction necessitates the involvement of the government. Communities should be provided with funds, but also with specific building materials that allow reconstruction to take place in accordance with the new standards, as well as specialists who are familiar with these standards and building companies that have such capacities.

The new energy system isn’t possible without a decentralised energy market with fair tariffs and a sustainable approach. So, the introduction of real market tariffs on electricity and heating, as well as reduced consumption, are part of this reconstruction.

The current state, prospects, and challenges of green reconstruction

Paradoxically, but the full-scale invasion has opened up a wider corridor for green changes in energetics. Both the people and the government realised that renewable energy generation strengthens Ukraine's energy security in the face of Russian aggression.

People do not want to wait until the war is over to make changes. Even though it is not yet systemic, reconstruction is already underway. Spot activities that introduce a green generation to communities tend to be carried out by NGOs.

They assist specific communities with the installation of solar panels and heat pumps on municipal buildings, hospitals, and water utility companies.

The process that has already begun should be properly navigated. Because green reconstruction requires a large initial investment, the government should develop a comprehensive strategy that prioritises renewables and is ready to allocate funds and attract investments in due time because green reconstruction necessitates a lot of funds at the initial stage.

A comprehensive plan for the green transition and decentralisation of the energy system is essential for Ukraine because it will help the country out of the declarative mode, thus attracting major investments.

The EU’s green deal is an important factor for Ukraine. It opens up the possibility of attracting technical and financial assistance for the green energy reconstruction. Moreover, relying on renewables is the fastest and most effective means of reconstruction.

What assistance does Ukraine need?

Firstly, Ukraine needs technical assistance. Ukraine’s partners provide energy equipment such as power generators, which are vital for surviving the winter.

But it’s also possible to diversify types of equipment and send renewable energy equipment directly to communities. After the war, this equipment will remain in communities and will help with green reconstruction.

Germany has already undertaken a similar effort. Its government has funded a two-million-euro project to install renewable energy equipment in up to 16 communities.

Ukraine also needs assistance in modelling a renewed decentralised energy system and energy market, with an emphasis on how each component of the system (municipalities, grid operators, transmission operators, and consumers) should function.

Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, the Head of the Energy Department at the Centre of Environmental Initiatives “Ecoaction"