Coal and nuclear to be Ukraine’s escape from Russian energy dependency
Ukraine’s energy sector is to renovate and expand its nuclear and coal industries, the country’s Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko has reportedly said, as Ukraine plans to become part of Europe’s electricity networks and secure its own power needs.
Nuclear power stations, to be built according to international security standards and with European cooperation, will increase the proportion of self-supplied energy in Ukraine’s total energy consumption, Ukrainian news sources report. However, details as to the scale of further investments or a likely timetable of plant building were not divulged.
Ukraine’s government plans to build up to eleven new reactors by 2030, according to the World Nuclear Association. This would nearly double the country’s nuclear capacity, as since the commissioning of two new 1,000 MW reactors in 2004, Ukraine has 15 units in four power plants constituting 13,168 MW or 26.3% of the country’s installed electricity capacity. In 2004, nuclear power, operated by nuclear operators Energoatom provided 87 billion kWh, or 48%, of Ukraine’s electricity.
Last week Tymoshenko also visited the coal-producing Donetsk region, promising miners the government would pay them outstanding wages – estimated at $64 million, the Associated Press reported. President Viktor Yushchenko had already announced plans to reshape the coal industry, which has suffered under-investment and an appalling safety record, with some 4,300 workers being killed in Ukraine’s coal mines since independence from the USSR in 1991. No power stations been renovated since that time either.
The coal industry had suffered due to an over-emphasis on other, mostly imported fuels, according to Timoshenko. Whereas coal constitutes 95.4% of Ukraine’s fuel production with natural gas at 2.6% and oil 2%, the consumption mix puts coal at just 29% of fuel consumption, oil at 10% and natural gas at about half of all fuels. Ukraine is largely dependent on Russian supplies of oil and gas, however, recent spats between Gazprom and numerous former Soviet states in eastern Europe have underlined the precariousness of such dependency.
Timoshenko said Ukraine-European cooperation in oil and natural gas pipeline construction is going ahead with a natural gas pipeline carrying Iranian and Turkmenistan gas to Europe, ITER-TASS reported. Ukraine needs to minimise its use of other energy sources, Timoshenko said.
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