Has Russia bombed Ukrainian hydropower plants?

Reports have been circulating for weeks that Russian troops have either already targeted and bombed hydropower plants in Ukraine or that these plants are future targets.

Hydro Review previously was not able to confirm these reports, so has refrained from reporting on it. However, state hydro operator Ukrhydroenergo recently alluded to the situation in a report on its website. And, the Reuters news agency reported that a “major hydroelectric plant” in Ukraine was one target in a missile attack on October 31.

Ukrhydroenergo’s report referenced the Energy Charter Treaty and how it might be able to protect Ukrainian energy companies from damages. Ukrhydroenergo held a webinar on the topic, including the conditions for applying the treaty to compensate for the destruction caused to Ukraine’s energy sector as a result of the actions of Russian troops and how to avoid mistakes in international processes regarding compensation for damages caused by Russia.

“Since the full-scale invasion of Russia, the Ukrainian energy infrastructure has undergone large-scale destruction,” Ukrhydroenergo said. “More and more often, the targets of enemy missiles and kamikaze drones are precisely the generation enterprises. Over the past two weeks, some objects have been repeatedly attacked. According to the estimates of the Ministry of Energy, about 35% of the installed capacity of thermal energy is currently decommissioned. The extent of damage to other types of generation is no less serious. Currently, one of the main tasks of the energy community is the assessment of damages caused to electricity producing companies, as well as the search for mechanisms for their compensation.”

Ukrhydroenergo has total installed hydroelectric generating capacity of 6,208.3 MW from 104 hydraulic units.

The release did not indicate the damage to hydroelectric plants in the country, but Ukrhydroenergo said it is considering possible legal options to protect its interests in connection with the occupation of Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant. The company filed a claim with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against the Russian Federation regarding compensation for damages caused as a result of Russia’s unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine.

In addition, Reuters reported: “Russia fired dozens of missiles at Ukrainian energy facilities including hydroelectric power stations on Monday, causing widespread blackouts, mobile phone outages and reductions in water supplies. Explosions rocked Kyiv and thick black smoke billowed over the capital in a wave of attacks on Monday morning [October 31] that Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said targeted 10 Ukrainian regions and damaged 18 mostly energy-related facilities. A major hydroelectric power plant at Kremenchuk in central Ukraine came under attack, the regional governor said, without making clear whether it had been hit or damaged. Unconfirmed reports on social media and local media reports suggested hydroelectric power plants had also been attacked in the Kyiv region, in the southern regions of Odesa and Zaporizhzhia, and in the central Cherkasy region.”

Ukrhydroenergo’s report referenced a project, established by the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Energy Charter and supported by the European Commission, to restore the Ukrainian energy infrastructure. “The main goal is to assess the damage that is inflicted almost daily on energy infrastructure facilities by the aggressor state, as well as to assess the potential level and size of investments in the energy sector and in the reconstruction of energy infrastructure,” said the representative of the Ministry of Energy, Inna Slobodian.

The energy department estimates that as of the end of September, the damage caused to the energy infrastructure of Ukraine amounted to $3.6 billion, according to Ukrhydroenergo. Taking into account recent events, the number is likely to increase significantly.

“At the first stage of the invasion, shelling of energy infrastructure facilities was episodic on the contact line, but since October, Russia has reoriented its tactics and directed the bombing specifically at critical infrastructure facilities. The working group … is actively working on coordinating the assistance of international partners. Work is ongoing to find scarce equipment for repairs,” said Vladyslav Maksakov, a representative of the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine.

The Energy Charter Treaty is a multilateral agreement signed by more than 90 countries, as well as the European Union. Despite the fact that Russia withdrew from the Energy Charter Treaty in 2009, the treaty contains provisions that are confirmed by judicial practice, which provide for the application of guarantees to protect investments.


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Author: Elizabeth Ingram