Dilemmas

Pumped-storage plants          


Model stories pumped storage plants

Pumped-storage plants

Most electricity in Ukraine is produced by nuclear and thermal power plants that are unable to make significant or rapid changes in the volume of energy generated, although consumption during the day is uneven. Peak load in the power grid is observed in the morning and evening, while at night there is "surplus" electricity that does not go to the consumer. The construction and operation of pumped-storage plants (PSPs) is one way of dealing with this imbalance. During the night-time drop in energy consumption, the PSP receives cheap electricity from the grid and uses it to pump water into an upper reservoir. During the morning and evening peaks in energy consumption, the water is released from the upper reservoir into a lower one, generating expensive peak electricity, which it returns to the grid.

National energy experts are proposing the construction of PSPs in the country’s plains, ignoring the fact that this territory is rich in cultural, historic and natural monuments.

Negative

Conflicting interests
  • The main conflict lies in the existence of two totally different visions for regional development. On the one hand, the country’s rich cultural and historic heritage and beautiful natural values are prerequisites for the development of tourism and recreation. On the other hand, representatives of the energy sector insist that an increase in industrial energy capacity will have a significant positive impact on the development of the region’s economy.
  • The construction of a PSP is a long, expensive and environmentally hazardous process, and there are insufficient financial resources.
  • About 15 to 20 percent of electricity is lost during the operation of a PSP.
  • The construction and operation of a PSP does little to stimulate the development of small and medium-sized businesses.
  • The construction of a PSP will result in the destruction of unique natural complexes and entire deposits of Ukrainian historical artifacts.
Positive

Possible solutions
  • As an alternative to the PSP, one possibility is to launch a far-reaching campaign on the implementation of energy-saving technologies and the active use of a preferential night tariff by households through the installation of special meters, which would help to achieve a balance in overall 24-hour electricity consumption.
  • Rather than building a PSP, the respective land could be included in the territory of a national park. This would contribute to the preservation of the area’s natural, historical and cultural values, and to the development of its tourism and recreational capacities. Additional jobs would then be created in connection with park maintenance and the provision of tourism services.
  • The development of tourism would, in turn, contribute to the development of small and medium-sized businesses offering recreational and other facilities to tourists.

Varying viewpoints


Local authorities
Local authorities are interested in attracting investors, developing the region’s economic and social infrastructure, and cutting unemployment levels. They are also concerned about the significant environmental risks related to the construction and operation of a PSP, and about the fact that the documentation related to the construction does not make any reference to the social aspects of the project.

Business sector
Referring to the government’s energy strategy, which presupposes an increase in electricity production, large power companies are lobbying for the construction of the PSP, which was suspended several decades earlier, to be resumed (next to the currently operating hydropower plant).

Citizens
Citizens are divided into three groups:

  • According to the first group, PSP construction will lead to an improvement in the social infrastructure and the creation of new jobs. This group includes citizens who own land and are keen to sell it at a profit.
  • The second group (intellectuals as well as the owners of small and medium-sized businesses) believe that the construction of the PSP would result in the destruction of unique natural, historical and cultural monuments, and the disappearance of local traditions and customs.
  • Members of the third group are indifferent about their own future and the future of the region. They’re happy to let the local authorities decide.

Environmentalists
For environmentalists, it is completely unacceptable to undertake construction work in a nationally significant landscape, which would result in the irreversible destruction of the area’s unique natural, historical and cultural values, and the loss of its tourism and recreational potential.

They are concerned that the operation of the PSP would lead to the significant disruption of the entire ecosystem, leading to coastal erosion and other unpredictable consequences. Damage to unique island reserves in the proximity of the PSP would accelerate, and the threat of landslides, mudslides and soil erosion would increase, putting neighbouring towns and villages at risk.