Vilnius/Warsaw (Reuters) – A giant transformer built in Ukraine in the 1980s and now disused is being dusted and ready to leave here in Lithuania. He will probably head to Romania in the next few weeks and from there return home to Ukraine.
What else is needed to restore Ukraine’s power system, which has been damaged by repeated missile attacks by Russia, according to Lokas Matsiuris, CEO of Litogrid, which operates the Lithuanian power grid. It is said that they are looking around the warehouse to see if there are any left.
“The Ukrainian side is telling us that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work or if it’s broken, because we can fix it,” Matthew Liss told Reuters.
While Western countries scramble to replenish the Ukrainian army’s weapons and ammunition, European and other regional nations are scrambling to supply transformers, switchgear, cables and even diesel to bring lighting and heating to Ukraine in the winter. We supply generators.
Ukraine has presented European countries with a list of some 10,000 items urgently needed to maintain electricity supplies.
The main players in the aid are former Soviet bloc countries and former communist countries. It is geographically close, and the power grid in the region still has equipment compatible with the Ukrainian side.
Matthew Liss says the most needed are autotransformers like the one they are shipping to Ukraine. It costs about 2 million euros (about 280 million yen) and weighs nearly 200 tons. It takes two weeks to remove the detachable parts and drain the oil for transportation.
“We are renewing our power grid. Everything we decommission will be sent to Ukraine,” said Matthew Liss.
Latvia, which borders Lithuania to the north, was once part of the former Soviet bloc. The country also plans to send five large transformers to Ukraine, two of which will be ready for shipment soon.
Since early October, Russian attacks targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have caused power outages, leaving millions of residents to endure freezing temperatures with little or no heating.
Moscow says the attacks are justified as part of a “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine. Ukraine and the West see it as a ruthless, indiscriminate attack aimed at civilians to demoralize and weaken the other side.
European organizations, countries such as Azerbaijan, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and even individual companies have already sent a large number of devices to Ukraine.
“We are asking for help from all over the world to replace the equipment destroyed by the Russian attack,” said Yaroslav Demchenkov, Ukraine’s deputy energy minister.
Demchenkov said that while Ukraine managed to avoid a “total collapse” of its transmission and distribution system, the disruption was huge. This week, almost 80% of the Kyiv region lost power for two days after a Russian attack using missiles and drones.
Given the urgency and drastic nature of the response, it is impossible to estimate the total amount of aid from each country. But tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transformers and generators have already been shipped to Ukraine.
One of the challenges is finding the right equipment to meet Ukraine’s needs. As a member of the former Soviet bloc, Ukraine’s power system is not always compatible with the standards of other countries, especially its northern neighbors.
Company officials say the supply of generators is not keeping up with demand. It can take months to deliver the most needed equipment.
“Unfortunately, the most needed high-voltage transformers have not yet arrived,” Oleksandr Kharchenko, head of the Kyiv Energy Industry Research Center, told Ukrainian state television on Thursday.
Harchenko says there are a few units available to ship around the world, but the earliest they will arrive is February.
Lithuanian grid operators have already shipped hundreds of small transformers to Ukraine. It is a device that lowers the voltage when transmitting power from the power plant to the end user. Gas suppliers also send spare parts to Ukraine.
Poland’s state-owned energy company Tauron said last week it had sent 21 kilometers of wires, nine drums, 129 isolators, 39 transformers and 11 overcurrent breakers to Ukraine. Spokesperson Lukas Zimnok described it as a “gift.”
Some of this assistance was in response to Ukrainian requests, but Ukrainian private companies have ordered replacement equipment to keep their businesses running.
Zheltsy Kovalik, sales manager at generator maker EPS Systems, said the company has received many orders from Ukraine, some of them for dozens of large machines at once.
“As demand for generators rises on a global scale due to the energy crisis, it is becoming difficult to secure the engines used in our generators,” says Kowalik. EPS Systems, which employs about 100 people, has been unable to keep up with demand and has turned down some orders from Ukraine.
Volodymyr Kudritsky, chairman of the board of Ukrainian power transmission and distribution company Uklenergo, said differences in standards are making it difficult to procure urgently needed transformers. Typical power lines in Ukraine have voltages of 750 and 330 kV, whereas in neighboring Poland, for example, they are 400 and 220 kV.
Switches, circuit breakers and circuit breakers are also indispensable. Ukrenergo employs about 70 restoration teams, a total of about 1,000 people, working around the clock to restore power, as well as using subcontractors.
Electricity consumption in Ukraine is about 16 gigawatts at its peak. Up to 10% of that can be imported from power systems in neighboring countries, but supply from Romania has so far been negligible, with Poland’s interconnections damaged in recent attacks only to be restored. ing.
Ukraine’s main recourse, therefore, is reserves of equipment in anticipation of a possible invasion and assistance from other countries.
Prime Minister Denis Shmyhali said earlier this month that 500,000 small generators had already been imported by Ukrainian companies, but 17,000 large ones for industrial use were needed to survive the winter.
Such generators are especially important in critical infrastructure such as hospitals and water pumping stations.
One of the bodies that oversees energy assistance to Ukraine from European countries is the European Energy Community Secretariat. It is an international organization established by the European Union, and includes eight countries that wish to join the EU.
More than 60 private companies across 20 European countries have joined the support, according to Director General Arthur Lorkowski, with more than 800 tons of equipment already sent to Ukraine and dozens more shipments planned. .
With stocks of equipment in European national power grids running low, Lorkowski expects the private sector to become even more important in meeting the demand for Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
Talks are also underway at the Group of Seven (G7) summits to see if companies in the United States, Canada and Japan can also get help, he said.
“Then it will be at a scale that will allow us to effectively proceed with the recovery of Ukraine,” Lorkowski told Reuters.
Officials said the first U.S. shipment of power equipment worth $13 million had left for Ukraine to help rebuild infrastructure. Two more flights are scheduled to depart soon. Ukraine is also in talks with Japan.
Lorkowski and other officials anticipate that the hardware could need to be designed and manufactured from scratch, and any such changes would be time consuming and expensive.
Ukrainian officials, who want to integrate the Ukrainian economy with the West, are considering a full overhaul of the energy sector, but for now their top priority is fixing the current power grid.
Some of the imported equipment is said to be a gift, but other countries and international financial institutions are also providing loans and grants to help the Ukrainian government restore infrastructure.
Olena Osmolovska, director of the reform assistance team at Ukraine’s energy ministry, said it would cost tens of billions of dollars to fully restore the energy system.