The government wants to reach a compromise with investors in sustainable energy to preserve the image of an investment-attractive country – Olga Buslavets

The full text of the interview with Acting Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection Olga Buslavets, which was broadcasted on Ukraine 24 TV channel on May 8, 2020.

-About this significant and deepest crisis for the last 20 years. I want to ask you what exactly caused this crisis and what could be the consequences of the current situation?

Thanks for the question. Indeed, today we are in a crisis situation. After the appointment, I accepted an industry with multibillion-dollar debts throughout the market chain. And I want to say that this happened as a result of administrative interventions in market conditions. Of course, in recent months we have a decrease in electricity consumption: it was a warm winter, we are experiencing quarantine measures today, reduced production by industry. Therefore, there is a need to physically balance the energy system so that it can operate stably.

– Ms. Olga, regarding the new balance introduced. The decision to reduce the generation of nuclear power plants is being discussed a lot, and the day before even the deputies addressed the Prime Minister. The key question here is: why are we reducing the production of seemingly cheap nuclear power plants, and not a little more expensive green and thermal generation.

First, reducing the load on nuclear power units is a forced, temporary measure to balance the operation of the power system during the quarantine period. As I have already said, we have had a very significant decrease in total consumption. Consumption decreased by 10%. The reduction of production by nuclear generation was proposed by the operator of nuclear power plants, Energoatom, and was supported by the system operator Ukrenergo, as the only possible option to maintain the reliability of the power system. This will provide a physical, energy balance so that all the generation needed for balancing can work.

In our country, we have nuclear generation that cannot balance the energy system. It constantly works the same, in the base load. The most attractive and optimal way to balance is hydroelectric power plants. However, you know, we have had a snowless winter, and we are experiencing one of the shallowest years in the last 120 years of observations.

Therefore, it was necessary to involve heat generation, balancing, in order for the system to work stably and correspond to the amount of consumption that exists.

– Ms. Olga, today at a conference call you made a statement that the population will not increase tariffs during this year in the Government. Is this true?

So. I immediately want to say that tariffs for the population from 2017 remain unchanged. And they are the smallest in our country in comparison with European countries, as well as with our neighbors: Belarus and the Russian Federation.

I would also like to add that the question is: why is nuclear generation limited, I am not a renewable energy source? It should be noted that under current legislation, which, of course, was not adopted by the Ministry – this is the level of Parliament, we are obliged to pay for “green” energy even when it was not physically produced due to the restrictions. Therefore, we must understand that if we do not reduce the production of nuclear energy, we must pay for nuclear generation, which is currently redundant due to falling consumption, and at the same time for limiting the production of renewable energy sources. And I think this is an unacceptable situation for our consumers.

– Ms. Olga, you have made a statement that you will resolutely fight this problem, which arose in the “green”. And how can this problem be solved if there are contracts, investments, people somehow planned all this, and on the other hand – it is a burden on the budget of Ukraine as well?

Indeed, there is a problem, because according to the current “feed-in” tariff, our national economy is not able to pay for this energy, and technically we can no longer integrate it into the energy system. The solution to this problem has been very protracted. In the last eight months, while this process has been dragging on in mediation and negotiations, the situation with renewable sources has worsened: new capacities have been introduced, which the power system is unable to accept.

The solution to this problem is not possible without the consent of investors and our international partners. Therefore, we have already prepared a draft framework memorandum with producers of electricity from renewable sources on the voluntary revision of the current model of “green” tariff. It will soon be discussed at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Denis Shmygal and investors. And we are set to complete this dialogue quickly and effectively.

This is necessary in order to resolve key issues in the field of renewable energy without arbitration, while maintaining the image of an investment-attractive country.

-I can’t help but finally ask about this story with cryptocurrency mining. Because one of the most popular news in recent days has been the announcement that the Ministry of Energy is developing cryptocurrency mining projects at nuclear power plants. Please explain what this information is about and why.

First of all, I am glad that this topic caused such a stir in the media, although it did not go without manipulation. Secondly, if we talk specifically about the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, it was built in a powerful industrial center to provide large, energy-intensive enterprises. You remember, there was such Zaporizhzhya aluminum plant. It so happened that a number of enterprises in this region were shut down for one reason or another. In addition, a large number of solar panels and wind farms have been put into operation in the south of the country in recent years. As a result, we have a surplus of capacity in this region. Therefore, as one of the promising options for how to effectively use this capacity, the possibility of creating data centers near the nuclear power plant is considered.

This will allow for guaranteed additional sales of electricity generated at the nuclear power plant. This is a global trend, so I think that Ukraine should also take into account global trends.

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