The Ukrainian energy system is synchronized with the European network

December 5, 2023

On 28 November 2023, the ENTSO-E acknowledged that the transmission system operator (TSO) NEC “Ukrenergo” implemented the key technical actions needed for continuous synchronization of Ukrainian and European energy systems. It is extremely important for further integration into the European electricity market and to ensure the resilience of the Ukrainian energy system.

Before the synchronization with the ENTSO-E only a small part of the Ukrainian energy system known as the trading zone “Burshtyn Energy Island” has been synchronously operating with the European energy network, while the largest trading zone of the integrated energy system (IES of Ukraine) was synchronized with the power system of Russia and Belarus, thus, it was dependent on decisions of the state-aggressor and its satellite.

Synchronization of the energy system that started in 2017 is a complicated integral process, including technical and regulatory elements. Meeting the technical requirements following the ENTSO-E catalog of actions has become possible due to the USAID support being provided for several years to the TSO (NEC “Ukrenergo”) through the Energy Security Project (USAID ESP). Thus, since October 2019 the USAID ESP has been helping the NEC “Ukrenergo” to test power units of Ukrainian power plants to certify them for the provision of ancillary services. Currently, the market of ancillary services plays a key role in supporting the stability of energy system operations.

The USAID ESP supported the NEC “Ukrenergo” in preparing the energy system to operate in an isolated mode, which was a decisive stage of the integration process. The first physical tests were scheduled for 24-26 February 2022 and for this purpose, the energy system of Ukraine was disconnected from power networks not only of Russia and Belarus but also from networks of all European states, i.e., the energy system has been operating in an autonomous mode. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the aggressor chose 24 February 2022 for a full-scale invasion when the Ukrainian energy system was more vulnerable. In extremely difficult mode when Ukraine suffered from massive shelling of Russian troops the NEC “Ukrenergo” technical specialists have been maintaining a stable frequency in a power network, while the USAID ESP technical team has been modeling the modes of power unit emergency disconnections in an isolated mode and maintaining the “Ukrenergo” during physical tests.

Under this Project, the USAID ESP has prepared the mathematical model of Ukraine and Moldova energy systems and simulated several emergency scenarios of emergency change of generation and load. The revealed risks and the respective recommendations were provided to the NEC “Ukrenergo” and adopted by the ENTSO-E. The USAID ESP experts jointly with the ENTSO-E project group have been tracking, in real-time, the parameters of the energy system and efficiency of frequency and power control systems during physical tests, the results of which have been recognized as excellent. The results demonstrated that the IES of Ukraine properly balances the consumption variations in normal and emergency modes of power unit disconnections ensuring the frequency control within tolerances and reliable power supply to Ukrainian customers. After the tests were over, the USAID ESP produced a report with the results of the tests, which confirmed the readiness of the IES of Ukraine for synchronization with ENTSO-E and was approved by the ENTSO-E (ENTSO-E PG) project group.

In March 2022, the power network of Ukraine was urgently connected to the European energy system having demonstrated the resilience of the Ukrainian energy system in an isolated mode during the full-scale Russian aggression that has become possible due to the surveys preliminary conducted by the USAID ESP and the risk minimization actions taken by NEC “Ukrenergo”.

The war resulted in a serious financial liquidity problem in the Ukrainian electricity market and one of the ways of mitigating this problem was to utilize the excess generating capacities to export electricity to Europe which was caused by a considerable decrease in electricity consumption due to the departure of millions of Ukrainians-refugees abroad, shut-down of operation and destruction of several enterprises, in particular, such energy-consuming consumers as metallurgical plants. The start of commercial export from 100 MW of cross-border capacity to bordering Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia in mid-2022 after synchronization with ENTSO-E considerably enhanced the energy security of the IES and reliability of power supply. At present, the ENTSO-E decided to increase the capacity limit for electricity trading from continental Europe to Ukraine and Moldova up to 1700 MW.

Synchronization with ENTSO-E is the best response to the necessity of enhancing the resilience of the Ukrainian energy system by integrating the energy system into the European energy space which means:

– improvement of energy system operation reliability and security of power supply due to coordinated cooperation with European partners. Russia and Belarus do not have influence anymore on technical and economic aspects of the Ukrainian energy system operation;

– opening of commercial foreign and economic transactions in the electricity market. Having excess electricity Ukraine can export electricity making money, in case of the deficit – import electricity from the EU ensuring reliability of power supply for Ukrainian customers;

– The synchronization of Ukraine’s energy system with ENTSO-E is an element of Ukraine’s integration process with the EU that is an important milestone in implementing a more global “Catalogue of Actions” of our state on the way to joining the European Union.