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Will the ‘peaceful atom’ be able to replace ‘hostile gas’? 

Will the ‘peaceful atom’ be able to replace ‘hostile gas’? 
Article by: Yevhen Solonyna
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina

Kyiv – Ukraine should prepare for a fourfold increase in gas tariffs this winter, Naftogaz states. Expert opinions regarding this have divided, however the majority supports the approximation of tariffs to market prices on gas. Meanwhile European energy experts advise regular Ukrainians to say no to gas in favor of electric heating and electric stoves.

The Ukrainian government will soon implement a single price on gas for all consumers in Ukraine, as such, for regular Ukrainians the tariff will grow about fourfold, stated Naftogaz Deputy Chairman of the Board Oleksandr Todiychuk at the International Energy Forum in Kyiv on Wednesday.

“I think it is possible that this year, decisions will be made to further increase gas prices. There is even an option – I don’t want to scare you, but I don’t want to hide this, – that a single price on gas will be established both for industries and the population,” said Todiychuk. He added that the idea had been fully supported by the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry.

At the same time, according to Todiychuk, the politicians are trying to avoid such a decision before the elections, as “the population’s discontent might influence this process significantly.”

Deputy Chairman of the Board of Naftogaz also assures that sociological surveys testify to the readiness of most Ukrainians to pay more for gas, should these additional funds go to the development of energy.

At the moment, according to the committee for electricity regulation, Ukrainians have several gas tariffs depending on how much they consume. The savviest pay less than 50 USD per 1000 cubic meters of gas; the families that burn the most pay almost 200 USD. Meanwhile industries pay prices that are close to market value, so between 300 and 400 USD per 1000 cubic meters of gas.

Europeans advise Ukrainians to switch off gas and turn on electricity

Ukraine, under conditions of deficit of gas, which it no longer imports from Russia, has to make an effort to stabilize the energy system, in particular, ensure the increase of electricity generated at nuclear power plants, which give half of the country’s electricity, and have no deficit of fuel, stated participant of the International Energy Forum, director of European Foratom Union Richard Evans.

“This is a real opportunity to turn off part of production which consumes a lot of gas, if there is a real crisis in the winter because of cold weather, when more gas than you have will be needed,” says Richard Evans. “In this context we advise the Ukrainians to look at alternative options, turn off gas and turn on electricity. Electricity is safer for the state, and it is a good argument in support of choosing nuclear energy.”

Nuclear energy today produces about half of electricity in Ukraine, a little less than half is produced by thermal electricity stations (which use coal, and some gas and crude oil), hydrological power plants – about 6% of the overall volume of generated electricity, and about the same amount is produced by other generating forces, reports the leadership of the Ukrainian Nuclear Forum. Under these conditions, only the thermal power plans are unstable in their work, part of which are forced to use imported coal because of the decrease in their own extraction, some don’t work because they are in the combat zone on Donbas.

Despite this, Ukraine produces more electricity than it consumes, and continues to export part of it, therefore it would be reasonable for the citizens to go from gas individual heating to electric heating, as EU energy experts advise, thinks energy expert Volodymyr Lartsev.

“It is a logical step, as electricity is cheaper than gas, and we produce enough. As to the fourfold increase in gas prices – it goes against common sense, as the government is placing its own mistakes and those of their predecessors on the shoulders of the citizens on the eve of the elections,” the expert notes.

As opposed to Lartsev, many experts consider the tariff increase for the population to be very relevant because of the big difference between current tariffs on gas and the real gas price on the European market. Among them is the Chairman of the Board of New Energy of Ukraine Alliance Valery Borovyk.

“The tariff increase was due seven years ago. The more they delay it, the more dramatic it will be, when the government does have the guts to normalize the prices,” says Valery Borovyk.

Energoatom company, which unites all four Ukrainian nuclear power plants, intends to increase the production of electricity, increase its part in the Ukrainian energy business, and construct six new nuclear energy blocks before 2030. The nuclear producers call their electricity among the cheapest in net value, besides hydrological electricity. Meanwhile a number of experts, in particular ecologists, note that the net worth does not include the price of processing the used fuel, and there are no real technologies to do so in the world yet.  They note the low maneuvering capabilities of the nuclear energy, so the difficulties in recalibrating the nuclear plants to produce various amounts of electricity throughout the day, accounting for the peaks in consumption.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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