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Politico: Europe is afraid to import a lot of electricity from Ukraine

Energy Minister of Ukraine German Galushchenko has a problem. His government has tasked him with convincing the EU that the Ukrainian nuclear fleet is safe enough to export large amounts of clean electricity to Europe. This would help Kyiv fill the devastated treasury, as well as lower European energy prices.

But the Russian occupation of several of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants since the invasion began, as well as the Ukrainian minister’s public disputes with the IAEA over security issues, exacerbate European fears of the security of Ukraine’s power generation system. This is a real atomic headache, writes Politico.

At a meeting with EU energy ministers last week, Galushchenko pushed for what he called an agreement from which everyone in Europe would benefit. An urgent approval is needed to increase the export of electricity from Ukraine, which will save 6 billion cubic meters of gas, because it will not need to be burned for power generation. Kyiv will get the money to pay its debts, and the EU will be able to fulfill its gas savings plan to get through the winter without supplies from Russia. In an interview with Politico, Galushchenko said that Ukraine could quickly increase exports to the West from 100 megawatts to 1,690 megawatts. What is the problem? “Techniques,” the minister muttered.

Repeated Ukrainian claims of a potential nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant if it remains under the control of the Russian army have terrified Europe. These warnings were intended to heighten the sense of urgency of the issue of a Russian war against Ukraine in the EU. But now they could undermine confidence in Ukraine’s nuclear security. Ukraine was not planned to be connected to the European power grid until 2023. But after the beginning of the Russian invasion, Kyiv disconnected from the Soviet system connecting the Ukrainian network with the Belarusian and Russian. And the EU power grid operators ENTSO-E authorized an urgent connection between Ukraine and the West. Galushchenko is seeking even greater acceleration in the form of a daily increase in electricity exports. But European operators insist on following the protocols.

Read also: The European Parliament recognized gas and nuclear power plants as “green” energy sources

ENTSO-E said they prefer a slow ramp up of 100 megawatts per month to keep operations safe.

Procedures! According to procedures! If we followed the procedures during the war, then the Russians, quite possibly, would be in Kyiv“, – said Galushchenko.

ENTSO-E did not respond to Politico’s request for comment on talks with Ukraine. But on Friday, European operators approved increase in electricity trade with Kyiv up to 250 megawatts.

The possibility of a further increase in trade will be assessed in September, taking into account the stability of the power generation system and security conditions.“, the ENTSO-E said in a statement.

Tension with the IAEA

Russia has controlled the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant since March. Daily operations are still carried out by Ukrainian workers. But Rosatom personnel are also present at the station. In an interview, Galushchenko insisted that the plant’s current operation was safe enough to boost trade with Europe. But he also ruled out the possibility of sending IAEA representatives to inspect the ZNPP while it is under Russian control. According to the Ukrainian minister, Kyiv must return full control over the power plant. This will increase electricity production and increase exports to the EU.

I hope that Russia will soon leave the station. Because in winter all six power units of the Zaporozhye NPP will be able to produce 6190 megawatts of electricity“, – said Galushchenko.

Now only three rectors work at the power plant. And the tense situation has already led to security warnings. The IAEA declined to comment on the Politico article. But the organization’s latest report on the situation in Ukraine says: “Recent reports about Zaporozhye point to an increasingly alarming situation there. The already stressful and difficult conditions in which Ukrainian workers find themselves could worsen even more.”

A representative of Rosatom said in an email that employees of the Russian agency “offer technical, advisory, communication and other assistance to the operator, if necessary, and do not interfere in the decision-making process of the plant management, nor do they take part in activities related to security, perimeter access or control.” Galushchenko accused IAEA director Rafael Mariano Grossi of reducing the risks associated with the Russian presence at the power plant.

Read also: Produced electricity at ZNPP is planned to be redirected to the Russian energy system – ISW

The IAEA insists that it is “an independent and impartial organization.” But in early March, in a press release, she called the Russian invasion a “military special operation of the Russian Federation.” And this still angers Galushchenko.

I still have the feeling that the IAEA’s position is: “We are a technical organization, so we do not comment on political issues, we are only technicians, do not ask us for political statements.” But it cannot be said that the occupation by the military or the shelling of the station by tanks is a technical problem. This is a nuclear safety issue. Can’t say it’s okay ”, the Ukrainian minister notes.

At the end of April, Galushchenko and Grossi met with President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss organizing an IAEA mission to the Zaporizhia NPP. But Kyiv was pushed aside because Grossi had already met with the leadership of Rosatom in Russia before agreeing with Moscow on access to the territory occupied by the Russian army in order to get to the power plant. And this happened before the IAEA director discussed the issues with Ukraine. Galushchenko believes that the visit of representatives of the organization in the current conditions can consolidate Russian control over the Zaporizhzhya NPP.

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