The Kakhovka HPP: Is the Reconstruction an Option?

September 17, 2023
Even though the war is still ongoing, post-war reconstruction is one of the most pressing issues in Ukraine.
Photo credit: Ukrhydroenergo

The feasibility of rebuilding the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, which Russia destroyed, is a hotly debated topic in this context.

We took a look into the future, to a future when Ukraine's territory is liberated, in order to assess whether it makes sense to rebuild the Hydroelectric Power Plant, and if so, how.

Ivan Gaidutsky, Doctor of Economics, and the Executive Director of the Global 100% RE Public Union, shared his thoughts with UkraineWorld.

Does Ukraine need to rebuild the Kakhovka HPP?

The Kakhovka HPP (KHPP) destruction was not only a large-scale man-made disaster, but it also resulted in significant economic losses for Ukraine, both current and future.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, Ukraine has suffered direct losses totaling 146 billion UAH.

Since the KHPP generated electricity, Ukraine is also going to lose revenue from its sale, which amounts to 10-15 billion UAH per year.

The issue of the KHPP reconstruction is ambiguous and requires the analysis of several key aspects. The KHPP may become a subsidized facility if it is not rebuilt, given that maintaining the remaining infrastructure, ensuring environmental safety, and social aspect expenditures will require significant funds.

One could compare it to the situation with the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which before the disaster was a large producer of electricity, and after the disaster became a large absorber of funds.

However, in terms of energy production, restoring the KHPP's capacity is not a priority. Today, the construction of large hydropower plants is an outdated and inefficient technology.

Priority is given to renewable technology, which allows generating much more power at a lower cost and in a shorter period of time.

Therefore, if the question about the construction of a new hydroelectric power station arose on the condition that the KHPP hadn’t existed before, the answer would be definitely negative.

Yet, when it comes to reconstruction, the most important aspect is water management. The Kakhovka Reservoir supplied water to the surrounding region's population, industry, and agriculture. It is impossible to come up with a solution other than rebuilding it.

Thus, the reconstruction of the KHPP is a strategic task in view of the water resources problem. Furthermore, unless the Kakhovka Reservoir is rebuilt, fresh water, which is a valuable source, will continue to flow into the Black Sea, which is unacceptable in light of the global problem of fresh water scarcity.

How should the Kakhovka HPP be rebuilt?

According to Ivan Gaidutsky, the new Kakhovka HPP should be smaller, and the Kakhovka Reservoir should take up a lesser area, while being deeper.

The problem of the Kakhovka Reservoir was that it occupied a large area, but with a low water level in vast areas, resulting in inefficient land use.

It will be possible to free up land for agricultural use if the Reservoir is deepened without reducing the water volume. Greater depth will allow for the launch of navigation as well as the development of recreational infrastructure, because the water will be cleaner.

It will be possible to establish a state bank of agricultural land in this territory, which can be divided into plots and leased on a long-term basis if certain crops are sown in rotation.

Such conditions, along with proximity to a water source, could attract more investors. This approach will also contribute to strengthening domestic and global food security.

The added value of executing a project of this kind might be the development of new infrastructure, such as a large network of roads and irrigation systems.

In the absence of an initiative to construct solar panels or offshore wind power plants in the close vicinity of the KHPP, it can be used to generate a certain amount of electricity for local needs. For example, for melioration.

Given the importance of environmental protection, reconstruction must be carried out to the highest standards possible.

The issue of financing

In addition to the losses incurred by Ukraine as a result of Russia's destruction of the KHPP, trillions of hryvnias (Ukrainian Currency) will be needed for its reconstruction.

The post-war budget is unlikely to be able to cover such costs. Therefore, funding could be obtained from one of two sources.

The first is the reparations that Russia will have to pay. The second is the involvement of donors and investors, such as the World Bank, the EBRD, and other players, following the example of the project to build a sarcophagus for the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

By attracting companies willing to complete projects on new agricultural lands, it is possible to attract investments for the reconstruction of infrastructure.

For example, the investor could enter on the condition that they rebuild a certain part of the infrastructure.

All interested countries should participate in this big project, as more players will expedite the rebuilding process.

Ivan Gaidutsky, Doctor of Economics, and the Executive Director of the Global 100% RE Public Union