Expanding the Ukrainian Power Transmission Grid
February 9, 2012
Ukraine has one of the largest power transmission systems in Europe, and one of the oldest. Over two thirds of the country's almost 30,000 km of transmission lines and 132 substations have exceeded their expected lifespan. And most substations have old Soviet-made equipment that poses a danger to personnel; high voltage power air-breakers that can explode and injure workers.
Better not to have accidents at all. That is why modernization of the state-owned UkrEnergo's assets is actively underway, including at Bar substation in Vinnytsya oblast. "We are changing old high voltage power air-breakers to new SF6 breakers. The terms of service of the old breakers expired a long time ago. The new SF6 breakers are much more reliable and they serve longer," says Leonid Dyachuk, Deputy Director of Electropivden'zahidmontazh-6, the company which built and maintains Bar's new transmission facilities. The new breakers also need a lot less maintenance.
It is very important for a country like Ukraine to have a solid electrical system, because it is the basis of the economy. And international projects, either with European investors or with the World Bank give an opportunity to modernize the transmission system faster than it can be done using local funds.
UkrEnergo is working with the World Bank to make its grid transmit more power while wasting less in the process. Togther, they are implementing a Power Transmission Project which is modernizing the infrastructure, including Bar substation. It is a bridge in the power transmission line connecting the Dniester Hydro Power Plant (DHPP) with tens of thousands of households in Chernivtsi and Vinnytsya oblasts.
The 77 kilometer line itself is being rebuilt with the guidance of Croatian engineers from the Dalekovod company. Before coming to Ukraine, Dalekovod staff worked in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Iceland, implementing similar projects.
"It is very important for a country like Ukraine to have a solid electrical system, because it is the basis of the economy," says Dejan Cerkic, Dalekovod Project Manager. "And international projects, either with European investors or with the World Bank give an opportunity to modernize the transmission system faster than it can be done using local funds."
Expansion of the existing 330kv Bar substation and construction of the transmission line have strengthened the Ukrainian electric grid, and the expanded and now stable production of electricity is a boon to power producers.
Among the main weaknesses of the power supply system in Ukraine is the lack of regulating capacity. That is due to the relatively small share of hydropower, and poor maneuverability of thermal power plants. Also, despite the fact that the country as a whole generates surplus energy, some regions of Ukraine are still experiencing difficulties in delivering enough power at peak times because transmission lines are unable to carry the load.
Mykola Lutchak, Acting Mayor of Novodnistrovsk, stressed that it was very important for the Dniester Hydro Power Plant to have a reliable power grid, because the whole town relies on a stable power supply.
"If the hydro power station works stably and produces a sufficient amount of qualitative electricity it will definitely have revenues. And the station always shares its revenues with the community of Novodnistrovsk", said Lutchak.
Every month the station pays about 800 thousand hryvnas in tax revenues to the local budget. Besides being the main source of employment, DHPP also supports the town's social infrastructure, a school, a kindergarten, and a concert hall from its revenues.
In total, under this project, UkrEnergo will rehabilitate seven substations similar to Bar in various regions of the country. Substation rehabilitation will help reduce energy losses by about 33 GWh per year and decrease maintenance and repair costs by about $ 800,000 a year. Since a typical 25-story office building consumes 5 GWh per year, the savings are equal to the power used by seven skyscrapers in a large city.
And if modernization in the energy sector succeeds, Ukraine's electricity grid will be a reliable part of the European grid. That will give Ukraine more opportunities to have income from Western European markets, where the price of electricity is higher than in Ukraine.