Mykola Kukharchuk, Director General, Ukrainian Nuclear Forum Association
National nuclear power and the nuclear industry make a significant contribution to economic and energy security, as well as the environmental sustainability of Ukraine.
Over the last 5 years, the share of nuclear power generation in Ukraine has exceeded 50%, and in some instances it has even reached 65%. Ukraine ranks second in the world (after France) as far as the share of nuclear generation in total electricity production is concerned.
Thanks to the stable functioning of the nuclear industry, the Ukrainian population and industrial facilities have not experienced the consequences of losing fuel and energy supplies and respective areas of resource development due to the annexation of Crimea and military actions in the East of the country, infrastructure damage and disruption of coal supplies from territories that are beyond the Ukrainian authorities’ control.
During the years of independence, a powerful infrastructure, as well as an organizational and legal basis has been created for the operation of nuclear power facilities. An adequate level of physical protection of nuclear power plants has been provided. A system of scientific and technical support and training has been developed. Technical, organizational and scientific measures are constantly being undertaken in order to increase the safety of the NPPs. LTO activities are underway to extend the NPPs by 20 years beyond their design lifetime. Up to now, the lifetime of 10 out of 15 Ukrainian operating power units have been already extended.
The impact of the nuclear industry on economic and energy security cannot be overestimated. The role which nuclear power play in generating economic growth and creating jobs is significant. Over the past 3 years, direct employment in the nuclear industry amounted to an average of 45,000 jobs with up to 11.5 billion UAH paid in taxes, which is equal to approximately 1.5% of the total revenues of Ukraine’s state budget. Hence, clean and affordable nuclear energy is one of the key elements of the country's energy security and a powerful factor in increasing the competitiveness of the Ukrainian economy.
In addition to the significant contribution of the nuclear industry to the country's economy, nuclear power plants also have a positive impact on the environment. The Ukrainian NPPs are the largest low-carbon electricity producers among the different types of electricity generation sources. The significance of nuclear power within the context of the climate change prevention and Ukraine's accomplishment of the objectives of the Paris Agreement are highlighted in the Strategy of Low-Carbon Development of Ukraine for the period up to 2050. In accordance with this strategy, Ukraine can achieve its climate objectives by preserving, in particular, the important role of nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source.
Over the entire period of their operation, Ukrainian NPPs have avoided 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions (taking into account the extended lifetime of 10 nuclear power units). In the event of a permanent shutdown of nuclear power plants, an additional 70 million tonnes of СО2 would be emitted annually.
According to the Energy Strategy of Ukraine for the period up to 2035 “Safety, Energy Efficiency, Competitiveness”, Ukraine considers nuclear power as one of the most economically efficient low-carbon energy sources. The further development of the nuclear power sector for the period up to 2035 is based on the fact that the share of nuclear power generation in the total electricity generation will increase and nuclear power will continue to play a major role in ensuring the country’s energy security, providing reliable and safe electricity generation.
On 1 July 2019, a new liberalized model of the electricity market was launched in Ukraine. This has become an important stage in reforming the country’s energy system and it has demonstrated that Ukraine carries out its commitments to the Energy Community relating to integration within the European energy market.
A new model of the electricity market will operate in accordance with EU standards and will make it possible to avoid the discriminatory low tariffs imposed on NPPs by the National Regulatory Commission and to move from manual regulation of electricity tariffs to market price setting. The former tariff barely covered the necessary production costs of Ukrainian NPPs and created a shortage of funds for the implementation of investment projects.
A new model of the electricity market will render the rules transparent and understandable for all market participants. It will allow for the introduction of genuine competition, which will ensure lower electricity prices, increase the quality and security of its supply services, increase the country’s energy security through the future synchronization of the United Energy System of Ukraine with the European energy market. Open market competition on equal terms is a driving force for important changes in Ukraine’s energy sector.