2035 is not the final coal phase-out date for the Ukrainian state-owned power plants, as was previously announced during the international climate negotiations in Glasgow. This information was provided by the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine in an official letter to Ecoaction.
Government’s current plan appears to be somewhere between phasing down unabated coal power generation and phasing out coal completely, most likely by 2040. Application of carbon capture and storage facilities in power production from coal is considered as an option to achieve the target.
Ecoaction’s team received a response from the Ministry of Energy to the organisation’s initial inquiry regarding the government’s further plans in relation to Ukraine joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance and announcing a coal phase-out date. The letter states that the “…modelling conducted for Ukraine defines 2035 as an optimistic scenario, while 2040 is a baseline scenario for a gradual decommissioning of coal power plants and an end date for unabated coal combustion”.
In addition, the Ministry stresses that “… joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) did not create strict obligations” for the government.
While the reversal of the stance previously announced during COP26 is worrisome, the Ministry of Energy also adds a new layer of conditionality. The letter continues with the following passage: “… [joining PPCA] implies that we need to be gradually reducing coal use and that we cannot be using the so-called unabated power generation technologies – those without application of technologies for substantial CO2 reduction, such as carbon capture and storage”.
“The mere mention by the Ministry of carbon capture and storage technologies as an option for decarbonisation is a troubling development. This was never a part of any discussions on the national level and we were sure that the previously announced date was about a complete coal phase-out.
However, we see now that this new rhetoric clearly reflects the final Glasgow Climate Pact where the formulation on coal is completely watered down. So instead of the necessary conversation on energy transition to renewables and just transition, we have to start a discussion about all the issues around CCS and continuing support to the unsustainable coal economy”, – comments Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, Head of Energy Department at Ecoaction
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology promoted by some as “essential” to limiting global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. However, Ecoaction and climate groups around the world prioritise ambitious climate mitigation to meet targets under the Paris Agreement. CCS risks distracting decision-makers from the need to take concerted action across multiple sectors in the near-term to dramatically reduce emissions. In addition, CCS at scale remains largely unproven and its potential to deliver significant emission reductions by mid-century is limited.
As Ecoaction previously reported, Ukraine’s publicly declared 2035 coal phase-out date is only one part of the story. Country’s largest private energy company and monopoly DTEK also joined PPCA but with another coal phase-out / decarbonisation date – 2040. The company currently supplies about 90% of all Ukrainian coal and operates about 75% of Ukrainian thermal power plants (9 TPPs in total). In essence, Ukraine’s final coal phase-out rests in the hands of a private business.
Ecoaction’s translation of the full text of the letter received from the Ministry of Energy
Regarding the handling of the request
The Ministry of Energy of Ukraine, within its remit, considered the letter of the Non-Governmental Organisation “Centre for Environmental Initiatives “Ecoaction” of 11.11.2021 No.366 regarding the perspectives of a gradual coal use in Ukraine fuel and energy sector and informs about the following.
Ukraine has a range of international obligations to reduce its impact on environment. They include the updated nationally determined contribution of Ukraine to the Paris Agreement adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on 30.07.2021, Decree No.868, which provides for greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 65% in 2030 compared to 1990 level. Moreover, the National Emission Reduction Plan from Large Combustion Plants (NERP) adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on 08.11.2017, Decree No.796, also provides for reduction of pollutants. According to NERP, country’s thermal power plant operators must reduce dust emissions by 97%, sulphur dioxide emissions by 95% (before the end of 2028) and emissions of nitrogen oxides by 72% (by the end of 2033). We fully support European Green Deal goals regarding decarbonisation of the fuel and energy sector.
At the same time, joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) did not create strict obligations for us. Moreover, participation in the Alliance is not about a radical coal phase-out. It implies that we need to be gradually reducing coal use and that we cannot be using the so-called unabated power generation technologies – those without application of technologies for substantial CO2 reduction, such as carbon capture and storage.
Modelling conducted for Ukraine defines 2035 as an optimistic scenario, while 2040 is a baseline scenario for a gradual decommissioning of coal power plants and an end date for unabated coal combustion.
Clean electricity constitutes 70% of the Ukrainian energy mix, and its generation does not lead to greenhouse gas emissions.
At the same time, the Ministry of Energy is actively working on a legal basis for development and maximisation of integration of renewables into the Ukrainian energy system, and for preserving the nuclear power generation capacities.
The Ministry is convinced that Ukraine’s participation in PPCA will be a positive signal to the international partners, including international financial institutions, and an indication of the systemic aspiration of our country to move toward energy transition through support of projects minimising or removing negative environmental impact.
The Ministry of Energy is preparing a National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan by 2030 and is working on the National Energy Strategy update with a planning horizon by 2050.
The new Energy Strategy will contain a significant reduction of electricity and heat generation from coal with a simultaneous increase of generation from environmentally safe sources.
Summing up the above-mentioned, we would like to note that the Ministry will ensure wide public consultations with all the interested parties in part of preparation of legislation aimed at reforming the fuel and energy sector of Ukraine.
in charge of EU integration
UPDATE: During the press conference on the results of COP26 held on 22 November 2021 Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, announced that “… the government did not adopt official documents that would declare such an ambition [2035 coal phase-out date]. … the Ministry of Energy should renegotiate the date with the PPCA. … it does not reflect our [government’s] official position, currently the consultations are underway to correct this date.
Photo: Niels Ackermann/Lundi13