Just 60 miles from the frontlines of the war with Russia, a Ukrainian energy company has managed to construct and bring online a dozen wind turbines.
DTEK Renewables announced the milestone Friday, alongside their goal to continue constructing dozens of wind turbines in the Mykolaiv region, which could provide energy to nearly a half-million homes.
“When the war started and the focus was on how are we going to survive, we did not know what we would do with this huge construction project,” said Oleksandr Selyshchev, CEO of DTEK, via The Washington Post. “Then the early wins of our army made it clear that victory was not in doubt, it was just a matter of time. So we made the decision to continue building.”
DTEK executives are aiming for Ukraine to build 30 gigawatts of clean power by 2030, half of which could be exported to other countries, and would make the warn-torn country a center of clean-energy in Europe.
DTEK's project was launched before the invasion in an attempt for Ukraine to shift away from coal-dependency. It became difficult to continue during the war due to the fact that the most viable areas for construction were near conflict. According to Selyshchev, foreign workers could not enter an active warzone, so they had to train local workers in the difficult construction process.
“When we first started discussing what to do and how to proceed, it was tough. It was a disaster. It was war," he said. “We had to create an entirely new approach to construction. It was winter time. We had air raid alarms going off. It is not like we could work on a normal schedule.”
Russia has targeted many Ukrainian energy sources through shelling and raids, but wind turbines and solar panels are ideal as their structures makes them hard to hit, and even if one is destroyed, the others stay online. After reclaiming a solar farm in the Kherson region, workers were able to quickly get the energy grid back online. It now helps power village of Tryfonivka as they rebuild their main plant.
Europe and other parts of the world have experienced energy shortages or cost increases since the war. On the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion, the International Energy Agency wrote that "the economic disruption caused by the war in Ukraine has amplified calls for an accelerated energy transition."
"A shift that would move countries away from highly polluting fuels, often supplied by only a handful of major producers, to sources of low carbon energy such as renewables and nuclear," their statement read. "Not least in Europe, where the ripple effects of the war have been felt acutely and Russian gas has historically dominated imports."
Selyshchev said he feels optimistic for the future of Ukraine's energy and economy, stating, “Even in wartime, we will continue with this transition."
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