Ukrainian crisis can be solved – with an Energiewende

A Ukrainian Energiewende could go a long way to resolving the current geopolitical crisis around the country, writes Oleg Savitsky of the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine in a new report for the Succow Stiftung. According to Savitsky, it would reduce Ukraine’s dependence on Russian gas and uranium as well as on coal from the breakaway regions, while at the same time reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the risk of a nuclear disaster. It would also help to combat corruption and usher in economic growth and a more equitable society. Savitsky calls on the EU and Germany to set up a “Marshall Plan” to bring about a Ukrainian energy transition, rather than trying to maintain Ukraine as a failed gas transit state.

Oleg Savitsky, a climate and energy campaigner, has written a devastating analysis of the current state of the Ukrainian energy system for the Succow Stiftung, a German foundation working to preserve the natural heritage in Eastern Europe (the former Soviet bloc). Currently, Ukraine’s power capacity is dominated by thermal power plants (49%) and nuclear plants (27%).

Ukraine Savitsky installed capacities 2015

A number of these nuclear plants operate well beyond their designed lifetime and represent a threat to the entire European continent, notes Savitsky. Ukraine is of course the home of Chernobyl, the scene of the worst nuclear accident ever to happen in Europe. For their operation, the Ukrainian nuclear plants also depend partially on Russian uranium.

Ukraine’s coal capacity was mostly commissioned in the 1960s and lacks even basic pollution control, writes Savitsky: “Under EU regulations, most, if not all of coal plants, would not be permitted to operate due unacceptable levels of pollution. Still, a number of them are supplying electricity for exports to the EU.”

What is more, Ukraine obtains most of its coal from the breakaway regions in the East that are now under Russian control. “While gas and nuclear dependences have been weakened thanks to reverse gas flows from Europe and new supplies of nuclear fuel from Westinghouse Corporation, coal dependence is only aggravating and needs to be addressed as soon as possible”, notes Savitsky. “Every ton of coal supplies from non-controllable territories is feeding corruption in Ukraine and handing cash to terrorist regimes in noncontrolled territories, motivating them to use forced labor in make-shift coal mines and aggravating the perilous situation with human rights in Donbass region even further…

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