While Putin’s bombs are raining down, the Ukrainians are busy building wind turbines

Energy transition in a hail of rockets: while Putin’s bombs are raining down, the Ukrainians are busy building wind turbines.

More wind turbines built than England last year: although the country is in the middle of a war, the energy transition is progressing in Ukraine. How does it work?

Nuclear power, coal, gas and oil: Figures from the IEA from 2020 show that the energy transition in Ukraine was progressing very slowly even before the start of the war. But the war with Russia, of all things, could become the “window of opportunity” for “green reconstruction”.

Wind farm completed despite the war

Due to the war, there are hardly any reliable figures on the current Ukrainian energy portfolio. The country aimed at lastto generate 50 percent of the energy supply from nuclear power and renewable energies by 2030 and to become climate-neutral by 2040. With the war, this goal has receded into the distant past. But initiatives within the Ukrainian population could now at least increase the share of renewable energies.

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But since the beginning of the war there have been numerous initiatives to build private small power plants. The Bloomberg news agency cites the case of climate scientist Svitlana Krakovska, who decided to install solar panels on the roof of her apartment building due to frequent power outages and rising diesel prices. The family then used the energy generated to charge batteries or to provide light during blackouts.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s balcony power plants or larger systems on roofs: Since the beginning of the war, such initiatives have been sprouting up everywhere and decentrally. Because the population can supply itself with energy independently, they act as a kind of back-up to the destroyed energy infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the end of May came in Wind farm operated by the Ukrainian operator DTEK near Mykolaiv connected to the grid in the southwest of the country. The 19 turbines in the wind farm generate enough electricity to supply around 200,000 households annually. Construction began in 2021 and was completed by the end of March 2023 despite the proximity to the front.

Another factor that could bring “green reconstruction” forward: The violent Russian attacks on the Ukrainian infrastructure have also destroyed many coal-fired power plants. German Galushchenko, the Ukrainian Minister of Energy, told Bloomberg that these are no longer being built – also in order to achieve the climate goals.

Ukraine wants to lay the foundation for EU accession with a green energy transition

Energy transition and climate-neutral power generation despite war? As the case of the climate scientist Krakovska shows, these initiatives are more about an independent energy supply or the possibility of a back-up – if the central infrastructure should fail.

Because: In order to destabilize life in Ukraine, the Russian army has deliberately attacked the energy supply of the Ukrainians with rockets. As of December 2022, around half of Ukraine’s power generation capacity has been out of commission: Much has been destroyed, damaged or is in occupied territories. According to Bloomberg, the damage in the energy sector amounts to almost 7.4 billion euros. During the winter, Ukrainian households were without electricity for an average of 35 days.

Citizens’ initiatives, but also larger government projects, are therefore important in order to restore the country’s energy supply. In the process, Ukraine can also reduce its dependence on fossil fuel imports.

The goal of climate neutrality is not the only reason behind Ukraine’s energy transition Goals of the European climate law arrange. These include, for example, reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and becoming climate neutral by 2050.

Aid funds for “green reconstruction” are subject to strict rules

Both in Ukraine and in the EU, everyone knows that a post-war Ukraine will only work if the country can be rebuilt. That is why there are already aid payments, including from the EU.

It is known from other military conflicts, such as the Balkan War, that reconstruction plays a central role in functioning institutions. That’s how they show Experiences with countries like Bosnia-Herzegovina, who also received aid payments after the end of the Balkan war: Corruption is very likely to happen. That has different reason, such as local institutions that are overwhelmed by the distribution of large sums of money, or the desire for rapid reconstruction and a return to normality. Accordingly, the aid funds to Ukraine are subject to strict monitoring and reporting.

For Ukraine, there is a new factor: climate change. This also influences how the European aid funds may be used. For example, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has linked the conditions for its reconstruction loan to climate measures. This is essential for “green reconstruction”. Because the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2040 is already a long way off due to the war.

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