“Ukraine has great potential.” For 30 years of independence, Ukrainians have often heard these words from foreign politicians and businessmen. They also sounded at the Zoom conference, which was organized on Monday, September 6, by the Eastern Committee of the German Economy. The main topic of the two-hour discussion was “green” energy in Ukraine.
Laying of Nord Stream 2 completed (archive)
The issue became especially relevant after the July deal between Germany and the United States on Nord Stream 2. And so it happened that during the conference on Monday news came that the last pipe of the gas pipeline project had been laid and welded in the German waters of the Baltic. In accordance with the agreement with Washington, Berlin has pledged to support Kiev’s transition to renewable energy sources, including the creation of the Green Fund, and to develop bilateral energy projects. Support for the production and export of hydrogen as one of the sources of new environmentally friendly fuels, in addition to the traditional energy of the sun, wind and biomass, was also named as one of the points.
Germans go to Ukraine to talk about green energy
Ukraine and Germany have been developing an energy partnership since August 2020, when a corresponding statement was signed at the ministerial level. Judging from the discussion, Berlin is accelerating the transition from words to deeds. In mid-September, Andreas Feicht, State Secretary of the German Economy Ministry, is going to Kiev, who praised Ukraine’s potential as a “large producer of green” energy at the conference.
Together with Feicht, Stanislaw Tillich, the former Prime Minister of Saxony and appointed in December 2020, the special envoy of the FRG government on structural changes in the Ukrainian coal regions, is also going to Kiev. Tillich’s tasks are to help Kiev close mines and share German experience. Two mines have already been selected, one each in the west and east of Ukraine, where pilot projects will be implemented, the politician said at a Zoom conference. According to him, Germany is allocating 60 million euros for them. This money will also be used to retrain miners who will lose their jobs. The fact that the social consequences of the transition to “green” energy will be difficult for Ukraine, said at the forum the representative of the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine Volodymyr Bondarenko.
Why it will be difficult for Kiev to export hydrogen
In the European Union itself, with which Ukraine seeks to integrate, the transition to renewable energy as part of the so-called “Green Deal” will have negative consequences for Kiev, the panelists warned. According to them, this will lead to “new restrictions.”
This Hamburg site uses green hydrogen to produce copper
Against this backdrop, Germany’s plans to help Ukraine produce hydrogen look like a daunting task. Under certain conditions, it is possible to use the Ukrainian gas transportation system (GTS) to export hydrogen to the EU, but electricity is needed for its production, and according to Brussels’ plans, it should be environmentally friendly.
Today, the share of renewable energy in Ukraine is just over 15 percent, said Oleksandra Gumenyuk, Director of the European-Ukrainian Energy Agency. By 2030, Kiev plans to increase this figure to 25 percent. For comparison: in Germany, the share of “green” energy in August 2021 was 47 percent. According to Gumenyuk, a third of the renewable energy market in Ukraine is occupied by large companies, including DTEK, whose CEO Maxim Timchenko also spoke at the forum. According to Timchenko, for a more successful development of “green” energy, Ukraine needs “market liberalization.”
Ukraine will need help from Europe
Another participant in the discussion, Katarina Maternova, head of the group for supporting Ukraine in the European Commission, is also going to Kiev at the end of September. She said that in the transition to renewable energy, Ukraine “will need help” from the West. European businessmen named the problem of financing projects in Ukraine as one of the main ones. Maternova criticized Germany, where, according to her, one of the government departments did not include Ukraine in the list of priority regions for economic assistance. Government officials did not comment on this.
One of the main conclusions of the conference is that Ukraine has “enormous potential” associated with its territory, but it needs financial support from outside. And, as Thomas Hüwener, a member of the management of the German gas transmission company Open Grid Europe, said, Kiev should “think big and act quickly.” According to him, the transition to “green” energy in Europe will occur faster and faster.