The World Bank is financing a tender to equip state-owned hydroelectric power plants in Ukraine with battery energy storage systems (BESS), amid reports of massive damage to the country’s grid and generation fleet.
New utility-scale BESS would be built at existing run-of-river and pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) plants owned by Ukhydrenergo (UHE), to help provide fast and efficient frequency response ancillary services to Ukraine’s grid, or Integrated Power System (IPS).
The hybridised energy assets would be jointly managed by merging new energy management system (EMS) technology with the hydropower plants’ existing SCADA platforms.
A request for proposals (RFP) has been issued for the project in September, with a deadline for receipt of technical proposals on 30 November and financial proposals on 15 December.
According to RFP documents produced by US engineering services group Tetra Tech, 197MW of “high power and fast discharge BESS” would be installed in combination with 35.9MWp of solar PV. The solar would provide backup power during low water conditions and serve auxiliary power systems during normal operation.
Those power and energy resources would be deployed at four hydroelectric facilities, chosen for their strategic importance in regions including Kyiv along the Dnipro River which is the backbone of Ukraine’s hydroelectric generation.
In addition to those four sites, the tender envisages the deployment of a further 15MW of energy storage, this time long-duration energy storage (LDES), along with 28MWp of solar PV at another hydropower site in Dniester. This new storage and solar would be used for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, in addition to serving UHE’s hydropower needs.
The World Bank is supporting the project with debt financing to UHE via the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and Clean Technology Fund (CTF). Ukraine is providing a sovereign guarantee.
Meanwhile technical assistance is being provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Energy Security Project for Ukraine. USAID has contracted Tetra Tech to implement the tender and other key aspects of the Energy Security Project.
‘Colossal’ damage, solar sector grinds to halt
The need for the battery storage arises from Ukraine’s growing share of renewable energy. In common with power grids everywhere in the world, the addition of renewables creates a need for balancing fluctuations in power input.
More uniquely to Ukraine of course, the country is facing immense difficulties since the invasion by Russia began nearly 300 days ago, acutely highlighting the need for energy security and stability.
Just yesterday, the IPS grid operator Ukrenergo’s CEO said damage to Ukraine’s power generation fleet from Russian missiles has been “colossal”.
Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said almost no thermal or hydroelectric generation plants in the country have been unaffected, as widely reported by outlets including The Guardian newspaper.
Fuel reserves stocked up prior to the invasion remain sufficient and work is ongoing to repair damaged infrastructure, while Ukrenergo hopes to be able to source spare parts from abroad to replace some equipment.
However, The Guardian quoted Kudrytskyi as having said it would be “inappropriate” to consider evacuating people from areas worst hit by the energy shortages.
Our colleagues over at PV Tech Premium in September meanwhile noted that the Ukrainian solar industry had ground to a halt, with more than 1GW, equivalent to 15% of capacity, lost since the start of the invasion. In 2019, the country was home to Europe’s third-largest solar PV market.
However, also reported by PV Tech Premium later the same month, industry groups including Ukraine’s national solar trade association ASEU have called for renewable energy to play a major part in the country’s recovery.
‘We need energy storage on an industrial scale’
Another dimension to the BESS tender – and to the wider context – is that shortly before the invasion and war began, Ukraine, like several of its neighbouring countries, had reached an advanced stage of integration into the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E).
In fact, a trial of the synchronised operation of the Ukraine and ENTSO-E’s transmission operators in 35 European countries started literally days before the war began.
Closer synchronisation gives Ukraine and other newly synchronised grids like Lithuania’s greater independence from Russia’s energy system and will support their transition to low-carbon energy sources like renewables paired with battery storage.
But, as the tender document points out, it also drives a need for flexibility and frequency response within the Ukrainian energy system.
In May 2021, that resulted in the country getting its first-ever megawatt-scale BESS, brought online by Ukrainian energy sector investment and infrastructure group DTEK, using a 1MW/2.25MWh BESS supplied by US technology company Honeywell.
That pilot and demonstration project was described at the time as an investment “into the future of Ukraine’s energy sector” that would “launch a new market for energy storage systems,” according to DTEK owner Rinat Akhmetov.
Earlier this month, at COP27 climate talks, DTEK’s CEO Maxim Timchenko said that the company, Ukraine’s largest investor in renewable energy, would not abandon its aim of reaching carbon neutrality by 2040.
“Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine is demonstrating the importance of energy independence for security and peace across Europe, and renewable energy will have an increasingly important role to play. We also need to accelerate Ukrainian plans for decarbonisation,” Timchenko said.
Prior to the war, 70% of Ukraine’s energy came from nuclear, 10% from renewables and the remainder from other sources. Timchenko said the country could become a “European centre of green energy” with its “great potential for solar and wind energy”.
“We must install renewable energy sources in many parts of the country. And for flexibility, we need energy storage systems – batteries – on an industrial scale,” Timchenko added.
DTEK is currently looking to expand its pilot BESS plant to 20MW and has a further long-term renewable energy goal of delivering 30GW by 2030.
That would sit well with the national solar association ASEU, which has modelled that about 20GW of new solar could support a 50% renewable energy by 2030 goal.
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