Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised serious concerns about the country’s energy security, with fighting already affecting power plants in eastern regions and Russian forces venturing close to nuclear facilities.
Ukraine is second only to France in Europe when it comes to the amount of power that the country generates from nuclear energy and this proliferation of nuclear sites presents serious risks during such a conflict.
The first few days of the invasion saw Russian forces seizing control of the area around the Chernobyl nuclear site, while invading troops from the south have surrounded Ukraine’s largest operational nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhya.
Energoatom, Ukraine’s national nuclear plant operator, has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to create 30km safe zones around nuclear facilities.
However, it is not just nuclear sites that are under threat. Most of Ukraine’s large fossil fuel facilities are in the east of Ukraine, near the Russian border and the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, areas that have seen a lot of fighting in the initial stages of the conflict.
One such plant is the coal-powered Luhansk power station, located in the town of Shchastya, which has already been affected. On 22 February, amid heavy shelling, the plant caught fire, leaving over 40,000 residents without electricity.
How does Ukraine generate its energy?
The majority of Ukraine’s energy comes from fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Analysis of GlobalData figures reveal that in 2021, nuclear energy generated more than half (54.2%) of the country’s electricity. Only 1.6% of power plants are fuelled by nuclear energy in Ukraine but together they have an average energy capacity of 902.9MW.
A lot of Ukraine’s oil and gas is imported. In 2021, 10% of gas for domestic consumption was imported. However, in recent years the country has been making efforts to produce more of its own fuel and decrease its reliance on imports.
Power plants in Ukraine using solar photovoltaics as their fuel make up 76% of plants in the country. However, most of these plants have very low energy capacity, at an average of 10.1MW.
While only 8.8% of power plants use gas, coal, or oil, they have an average energy capacity of 521.8MW. Individually, coal makes up the largest proportion of total energy capacity, with an average total capacity of 1,133MW. This is despite coal power plants making up only 2.8% of all power plants in Ukraine.
The company with the largest ownership of power plants in country is Elementum Energy Ltd, which owns 12% of the power plants across Ukraine.
Disruption to upcoming power plants
GlobalData also records information for the 14 plants that were due to come online in 2022, the fate of which is now extremely uncertain. Eight of these plants were set to be powered by onshore wind, and, with a total capacity of 2,353MW, would almost double Ukraine’s wind capacity.