At the end of June, when the Ukrainian energy market faced another crisis, the news that the World Bank had approved the allocation of $212 million for the construction of hybrid power generation systems at Ukrhydroenergo facilities was ignored. Why this news is worthy of attention, what kind of systems they will be, and how their construction will help the integration of the Ukrainian energy system into ENTSO-E, explains energy expert Valeriш Nozdrin.
Let's start with the technical part. $212 million is the total amount of funding provided to Ukraine by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development ($177 million) and the Clean Technology Fund ($34 million loan, as well as a $1 million grant). These funds will be used to install energy storage systems in combination with solar panels at five hydroelectric power plants (Kyiv PSPP, Kaniv HPP, Kremenchuk HPP, Seredniodniprovsk HPP and Dnister HPP). Installation of hybrid power generation systems is due to be completed in 2023.
The total capacity of lithium-ion energy storage systems will be 197 MW, and the capacity of solar photovoltaic plants – 63.9 MW. I would like to note right away, no, Ukrhydroenergo did not decide to earn extra money on the “green tariff”. Solar power plants will be used as sources of power supply for the own needs of hydroelectric power plants and pumped storage power plants, as well as for recharging storage systems.
The most interesting aspect of this project will be the installation of energy storage systems. Why is it important? Until now, the United Energy System of Ukraine operates in the “consumption volume must correspond to production volume” mode. That is, we do not have any opportunities for storing excess electricity now. What does it mean? That the operators of Ukrenergo are forced to constantly be on high alert, all the time to “juggle” the amount of electricity. This is especially true for solar and wind energy, the production volumes of which can fluctuate significantly even within one day.
Although such a mode of operation has become familiar to everyone, we remember very well the spring of 2020, when a rapid drop in consumption led to the need to urgently review the entire energy balance of the country and even temporarily shut down entire units of nuclear power plants. It was then that the question of the shortage of highly mobile and fast-acting reserves in Ukraine arose.
Of course, storage systems with a capacity of 197 MW would not have solved that situation. But if we look at this as the beginning of systematic work on the creation of highly mobile and accumulating capacities in Ukraine, then the situation looks quite promising. By the way, recently the first storage facilities, albeit of very small capacity (2.25 MW), were also launched by DTEK. That is, we can already talk about certain trends. In the future, the creation of a network of such systems will not only increase the reliability of the UESU operation but also significantly affect the operation of the electricity market.
An equally important aspect is the practical importance of launching accumulation systems for Ukrhydroenergo. First, the batteries will be combined with hydroelectric blocks to form hybrid blocks that will respond more quickly to changing electrical loads on the state grid. Thus, the wear of the hydraulic units and the operating costs will be reduced. Secondly, the installation of hybrid power generation systems will expand the range of ancillary services that Ukrhydroenergo provides in the power market and improve their quality. According to the economic assessment of the USAID project, the payback period for the new systems will be 5-6 years.
And now let's move on to the problem of integrating the Ukrainian energy system into ENTSO-E. Among the issues that need to be resolved before joining the domestic energy system to the European one is ensuring the current frequency in accordance with European standards. And it is precisely the installation of such hybrid units with the possibility of accumulation that will create the necessary reserve for maintaining and restoring the current frequency. According to preliminary estimates, to ensure the maintenance of the frequency following European standards, it is necessary to create storage capacities in Ukraine with a total capacity of 2 thousand MW. And in this sense, the installation of energy storage systems at the facilities of Ukrhydroenergo is of strategic importance, since in fact, it will become the first step to fulfil this condition for the integration of energy systems, as well as an example for other generating enterprises.
Therefore, we will closely monitor the implementation of this project and hope that such systems will appear at other power plants as well.
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