Consequences of Widespread Power Outages for the Ukrainians
Here we provide all scenarios of events in case if the Government will decide to implement rolling blackouts after all.
Will it be necessary for Ukrainians to live by candlelight? The answer for this question still remains in limbo. The Cabinet of Ministers never considered the imposition of the state of emergency in the energy sector, despite the Anti-Crisis Energy Headquarters and the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Igor Nasalik insisted on it.
The list of emergency measures suggests to reduce load on TPPs working on difficult-to-obtain anthracite coal. It bears reminding that its deliveries to Ukraine were terminated due to blockade by activists of railway traffic with separate districts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions (ORDLO), where such coal is mined.
According to the head of NPC Ukrenergo Vsevolod Kovalchuk, the stock in hand will suffice approximately for 40 days of working in the economy mode.
As an extremity, the Government considers the scenario of rolling blackouts (i. e. scheduled ones) in seven regions: Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Kiev, Chernigov, Zaporozhye, Sumy and Cherkasy.
The Energy Programme Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of NAS of Ukraine Valentin Zemlianskii believes that rolling blackouts can start much earlier, and it threaten not only listed regions, but other regions as well.
We’ve already been there.
In fact, rolling blackouts are no news for Ukraine, which has already lived through five states of emergency in power sector in the last two years.
“Judging by the experience of 2014-2015, operators of power systems steered away from control. However, could not cut power to some enterprises in the area for monetary reward. I. e. an enterprise is cut out officially, but in fact it continues to consume power. For that reason, I don’t rule out that even with the availability of official outage schedule from Ukrenergo, automatic energy cutoffs on TPPs or local substations can occur”, Zemlianskii said.
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According to analysts, power cuts will start much earlier than in 40 days. Power supplying companies will have to save fuel and reduce load to prevent system from breakdown.
Economic expert Vsevolod Stepaniuk reported that industrial consumers, except businesses with uninterrupted production cycle (blast furnaces, coking plants) will be the first for cut off, as well as oil refinery plants and other chemical factories. Consumption of these enterprises is limited to the level of so called environmental reserve of electric power supply (the minimum level providing environmental safety of such production, let’s say, operation of pumps, filters, etc.). Besides, as two years ago, limitations in energy supply will be applied to state strategic industrial facilities in the field of telecommunications and data transmission.
In an extreme emergency, if the process will become uncontrolled, the system will disconnect and the so-called blackout will occur. Then, each working power plants will operate separately, and those consumers which are located near the power plant will be lucky.
“This concerns NPPs as well, because nuclear stations will not satisfy the demand without thermal generation. So this means that the problem threatens not seven regions, as the government expects, but the country in general”, Valentin Zemlianskii said.
Average consumer is slightly interested in the issues of coal supply or Ukrainian generation. He would rather know would it be warm and light at home and could he live in the groove.
“The government by suggesting rolling blackouts virtually agreed that they cannot provide it,” analyst of Public Audit public organization Taras Galaida told UBR.ua.
CHPP produces both heat (hot water) and electric power. If such enterprise stops or focuses on electric power production, there will be heat and hot water supply interruptions in the district, which is supplied by such CHPP.
“A segment of the population gets services of central heating. Another segment uses electrical heaters or gas boilers. In the latter case, lack or outages with electric power supply can cause problems with boilers automatics and pumps operation,” Valentin Zemlianskii explained.
Transport sector will have problems as well. For example: in Moscow, in May 2005, due to a power failure, a range of urban districts lost power supply for several hours. As a result, approximately thousand of people stuck in elevators, and dozens of thousands stuck in the metro. Railway stations operated with interruptions, and operation of many commercial and state enterprises was crippled.
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“Like only trains and trolley buses depend on electrical network in the city. Buses and shuttle vans also require to be refilled with fuel from fuel station electric-driven pumps”, Taras Galaida remarked.
However, CEO of Parallel fuel station Yelena Khilenko said to calm down: Even if interruptions occur, it unlikely be massive and won’t influence the work stability of company’s fuel stations.
“In case of short cut off, we will use diesel generators, which our fuel station and petroleum depots are equipped with. Cash offices and POS-terminals are equipped with GPRS-modules that turn when the main Internet channel disconnects. So it will work at least while base stations of mobile operators are alive” Yelena Khilenko said.
In turn, the press secretary of Vodafone Ukraine Victoria Pavlovskaia assured that scheduled power cuts should not be a reason for disruptions in communications.
“Mobile network will work. In case of termination of electric power supply and after depletion of batteries, the power is supplied by diesel generators. For this, diesel fuel is purchased and supplied to communications sites”, Pavlovskaia reported.
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However, according to President of Union of the Ukrainian Petroleum Product Market Operators Dmitrii Kulik, generators can help only during short outages. But not all fuel stations are equipped with such equipment. So we can’t confirm that all fuel stations will work in normal mode. Especially, its concerns roadside and rural fuel stations where additional equipment is unlikely present.
“Considering distant rural areas, even a network fuel station could lack a backup power supply unit. Besides, using a generator is a costly affair. For that reason, it is difficult to predict how owners of fuel station will behave if a blackout will be extended. In general, generator operation will be enough for 5-6 hours”, Dmitrii Kulik told UBR.ua.
If electricity will be supplied to fuel stations according to the schedule, stations will close after a while. It may result in waiting lines and general frenzy. Indeed, in such situation vehicles’ owners will try to stock up on fuel for the future.