Is there light after shelling? How the Ukrainian energy system will work under Russian missile strikes

Massive shelling of Ukrainian energy infrastructure by the Russian Federation led to a partial and complete blackouts of cities and entire regions, many of which, as a result, lost one of the critical services – water supply. Power restoration work is already underway, but targeted attacks on power facilities to disable them will likely continue.

The head of the “Energy” sector, Anton Zorkin, told to what extent the Ukrainian energy system is stable and whether it will be able to work to support critical infrastructure under fire.

Given the threats of the Russian leadership, it can be assumed that targeted attacks on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine will continue.

The stability of its work will largely be determined by the effectiveness of air defence, as well as the ability of the aggressor country to regularly carry out such massive missile strikes – “First of all, in winter when the load on the network increases and the system becomes more vulnerable”, emphasised Anton Zorkin.

“There is no other way than anti-aircraft defence to protect such large stationary objects as thermal power plants. If the strikes will be repeated and cause constant damage, another question will arise – how to minimise the consequences of shelling by reducing the recovery time of the affected objects”, he pointed out.

In his opinion, the job of the government and power companies should be to provide spare materials for quick repairs – particularly transformers, wires and switches, and generally other mechanisms that can be destroyed or damaged. However, Zorkin admits that it will not be possible to provide quick repairs in some cases.

“If, for example, a turbine is damaged in a power plant, it will not be quickly restored – it is a rather large and complex structure that cannot be simply replaced, as in the case of a transformer. The consequence of such damage will be long interruptions in electricity production or a delay in the return of production to the planned volumes”, states the BRDO expert.

At the same time, Zorkin noted, the Ukrainian energy system is sufficiently developed that its stability would not be threatened by the failure of even a large but one or several energy facilities. Therefore, only massive damage can cause the need to introduce long-term consumer electricity supply restrictions.

Hennadii Riabtsev, an expert of the “Psyche” centre, also expressed the opinion that the Ukrainian energy system has a large reserve of strength, which at the same time is exhausted when it is constantly damaged.

In the case of continued shelling, our interviewees agree, the authorities need to provide additional reserve capacity for the functioning of critical infrastructure facilities. Such systems were already deployed after Monday’s shelling.

For example, as noted by DTEK “Kyiv Regional Electric Networks”, simultaneously with the introduction of GAV for domestic and industrial consumers, critical infrastructure – hospitals, subways, rescue services – were fully supplied with energy.

For such electricity-dependent elements of critical infrastructure as heat and water supply systems, autonomous power generators can also be reserved, Zorkin notes.

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