Ukraine has been grappling with a major energy crisis as a result of Russia’s invasion and the subsequent destruction of its energy infrastructure. The country’s state-owned coal plants, already in need of modernization, have been further devastated, making it impossible to rebuild the outdated Soviet-era system. To address this issue and reduce its reliance on Russia for energy, Ukraine has set a target to close all state-owned coal plants by 2035.
The solution lies in a rapid transition to renewable energy sources. Investments in solar, wind, and heat pump technologies offer a cost-effective and future-proof solution. Ukraine has already made significant progress in this regard, surpassing England in onshore wind installations in the past year. Installing small-scale solar panels and implementing grid-scale projects can address the immediate energy supply gaps and lay the foundation for a decentralized, renewables-based power system.
There have been notable success stories showcasing the impact of renewable energy systems in Ukraine. For instance, when the heating system of the Horenka village hospital was damaged, NGOs installed solar panels and a heat pump, providing 60% of its power and reducing heating costs by 80%. Similarly, a clinic in Zhytomyr Oblast installed solar panels to power ventilators in intensive care units, ensuring uninterrupted power supply during critical treatments.
Alongside the transition to renewables, Ukraine must prioritize energy efficiency measures. Its energy-intensive economy is a drain on limited resources, especially during times of war. Improving energy efficiency across all sectors should be a crucial focus during the country’s reconstruction.
Transitioning away from coal requires a well-designed National Energy and Climate Plan that embraces a just transition approach. Consultations with local authorities, civil society organizations, and experts are necessary to develop detailed decarbonization plans that align with EU sustainability principles and climate targets. By committing to a post-coal roadmap and emphasizing renewable energy and energy efficiency, Ukraine demonstrates its commitment to EU alignment, sustainability, and climate action.
This strategy not only supports Ukraine’s economic recovery and national security but also attracts investors interested in green energy opportunities. By aligning itself with other European nations that are phasing out coal, Ukraine signals its intention to be a green energy superpower, supplying clean power and sustainable technologies to the EU and beyond.