Ukraine counts heavy cost of Russian attacks on hydropower plants
- Russia has targeted energy facilities in air strikes
- Four of Ukraine's hydroelectric power plants damaged
- Ukrhydroenergo trying to restore full capacity
KYIV, March 27 (Reuters) - Ukraine is trying to give hydropower facilities "maximum protection" by hiding equipment underground as it repairs an estimated $1 billion in damage from Russian air strikes, a senior industry official said.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine 13 months ago, has targeted energy infrastructure since October in waves of attacks that have at times left millions of people without power.
Ihor Syrota, head of state-run hydropower generating company Ukrhydroenergo, said four of Ukraine's nine hydropower plants had been damaged in Russian attacks that mainly targeted electrical equipment and machine rooms at plants on the Dnipro and Dniester rivers.
He said the nine hydropower plants usually produce about 10% of Ukraine's energy and have a combined capacity of 6,300 megawatts (MW), but that about 2,000 MW of that capacity had been lost because of damage to infrastructure.
Engineers have already restored 500 MW of capacity and plan to restore the rest as soon as possible, this time with better protection, he said.
"Everything we will be restoring and building - everything involves maximum protection. We will hide electrical equipment at existing stations," Syrota told Reuters in an interview.
"If we have a new project - we are of course reviewing it - everything that was previously supposed to be on the surface will have a different structure, we will hide it (underground)."
Syrota, who did not provide further details, said that despite the war, Ukrhydroenergo remained profitable and did not intend to abandon development projects.
Its priorities include the completion the Dniester Pumped Storage Power Station in western Ukraine, construction of a similar station on the Dnipro river, and construction of a new hydropower plant near Kherson in southern Ukraine.
Syrota put investment required in these facilities, which would generate an additional 2,500 MW of hydropower, at about $3 billion.
He said hydropower should play a bigger role in helping Ukraine meet national consumption needs during peak hours.
Thermal power currently has a much bigger role in this process than hydropower, but the output of thermal power plants has been significantly reduced by the damage they have suffered during the Russian air strikes, Syrota said.
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