Borys Kostiukovskyi on the situation across the energy sector: We have been on the verge too many times

NNEGC Energoatom is unlikely to be able to use 14 out of 15 nuclear power units in winter, despite the plans of the Ministry of Energy. This is evidenced by the repair plan at nuclear power plants, which is at the disposal of Kosatka.Media. According to it, 2 power units will be fixed during certain periods of January-February, 3 of them in February, and 5 in March.

Kosatka.Media studied the plans of the nuclear energy workers and asked Borys Kostiukovskyi, Scientific Director of the Bureau for Comprehensive Analysis and Forecasts, ex-Head of the Department for Assessing the Conformity (sufficiency) of Generating Capacities of NPC Ukrenergo, to explain these plans. For the past few years, Borys Kostiukovskyi has been preparing the "Report on the assessment of conformity (sufficiency) of generating capacities in Ukraine".

The plans of Energoatom

According to the "Operational Schedule for the Operation of NPPs’ Power Units in 2021" dated October 4 (the document also covers the 1st half of 2022), Energoatom plans to repair power units of Rivne NPP,Zaporizhzhia NPP, Yuzhnoukrainskaya NPP and Khmelnitskyi NPP:

  • RNPP-4 (1000 MW) - from 25.11.2021 to 10.04.2022 (medium repairs);
  • RNPP-1 (440 MW) - from 18.01.2022 to 07.04.2022 (medium repairs);
  • ZNPP-1 (1000 MW) - from 01.03.2022 to 28.06.2022 (medium repairs);
  • YuNPP-3 (1000 MW) - from 13.03.2022 to 28.06.2022 (medium repairs);
  • KhNPP-2 (1000 MW) - from 16.02.2022 to 18.05.2022 (overhaul repairs).

This means that RNPP -4 will not be in operation in December and January, RNPP-1 will not work half of January, RNPP-1 and RNPP-4 will be repaired in February, ZNPP-1 – in March, RNPP -1, Rivne NPP-4 will also not work in March and South NPP-3 is to be idle during a part of the month.

Earlier, Energoatom published schedules for the repair campaign, but then stopped giving these data to the public. The document, which Kosatka.Media refers to, has no secrecy labels or other restrictions.

График ремонтов энергоблоков на АЭС Украины

Repair schedule. The beginning and the end of the repairs are marked in yellow. Photo: Kosatka.Media

At the same time, the Minister of Energy of Ukraine Herman Halushchenko, reporting to the Verkhovna Rada on November 5, once again announced that nuclear generation would be used at full capacity, which would save 3.6 million tons of coal.

“Nuclear generation will be the key stabilizing factor during this heating season. We are talking about the maximum involvement of nuclear power units in the production of electricity. The forecast balance for this year hits the record load for nuclear generation over the past 5 years. It is +7 billion kWh, which is 15% more than last year. This increase in electricity production will reduce the need for coal by 3.6 million tonnes. To ensure such work and to maximize the involvement of nuclear generation units, measures are being taken to optimize the repair campaign. The forecast balance has been revised accordingly,” Halushchenko said.

He mentioned that 11 units of the NPP were in operation.

“We have a plan to turn on 2 more blocks in November, and one more block in early December. Perhaps we will shift this date to November. The point is that we will have 14 units out of 15 in operation,” Halushchenko said.

Borys Kostiukovskyi: "We were too lucky previous years"

- This year Energoatom has already changed its repair schedule three times. No one is responsible. But fuel stocks of other generations have to be considered according to the schedule and its possible violation. Let's say, I run a thermal power plant and I understand that nuclear energy workers will produce a lot, so, I do not need many stocks. And the forecast balance provides that at a certain period I need to have a guaranteed supply of coal for 10 days for stations using coal of the DG grade and ASh grade for 20 days.

Last year, when two units of the nuclear power plant were not relaunched on time, they began to burn coal, but we had stocks back then. I don’t understand how we will handle the situation this year.

In theory, they want us to have practically no repairs at nuclear power plants in December, January and February. But as practice shows in recent years, we have the most severe frosts in late February and early March, when, we have two power units of 1000 MW under repair. We have 5 critical months – from November to March, and no one knows when it is going to be the coldest.

In winter, we cannot count on renewables. We are working with climatologists, according to the forecast, we will have a lot of cloudiness, a little sun, the wind can blow well for two days, then it goes down to zero. And if there are severe frosts with a normal anticyclone, then there will be no wind at all.

The question arises: we have 15 nuclear power units with a capacity of 13.4 GW. Let's say the peak consumption is 24 GW. Even if all the units of the nuclear power plant work, we will need to get 10 GW more during the peak consumption. The problem is not only that we asked for emergency help on November 2. We are now also draining all the water at the hydroelectric power stations. Winter has not yet begun, and we are already going below the agreed level of the reservoirs. I am afraid that in winter we will not have much power generation from hydroelectric power stations either. Perhaps we will “charge” the PSPs when we have a surplus of capacity to use them during the peaks. Thus, we will increase the price of electricity across the market.

Another question is whether all NPP units will be relaunched? Last year there was a lot of coal, but the nuclear power plants were not relaunched on time. So, we were burning coal. Could this situation repeat? This is a question, especially considering that Energoatom has problems with all suppliers and repairmen. But even if all the units work, what is the chance that some of them will not shut off in winter?

There is no coal, thermal power plants do not work. Nobody wants to run them on expensive gas. Russia is not interested in exporting electricity and coal to us. It is more profitable for it to use them to supply its consumers with electricity and sell the saved natural gas to Europe. So, from my point of view, there are zero chances we will painlessly pass this season. Yes, it may be warm, there will be rains, there will be a lot of water, the nuclear power plant will work normally, we will somehow figure it out with coal, and gas prices will fall sharply and we will launch TPPs.

But I think that we were too lucky in previous years. We have been on the verge too many times.

Read the full text of the interview with Borys Kostiukovskyi on Kosatka.Media next week.


Tags: gas, NNEGC "Energoatom", coal, nuclear power plant

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