Future of Electrical Power Generation Post Russian Invasion of Ukraine. By: S. Bobby Rauf, Semtrain, LLC, April 18, 2022.
The composition of electrical power generation, short term, medium range and long range is likely to be influenced, substantially, by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in most of the developed world and in significant number of the developing nations – signatories to the Paris Accord or not – power generating industry was moving away from coal, fossil fuels, and nuclear. However, on February 24th, 2022, Russia launched a full scale attack on Ukraine sparking social, political, economic, and energy volatility around the globe. From energy point of view, it was another wakeup call for the world – the previous one being the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, when world, particularly, European nations that depend substantially (20% – 40%) on Russian oil and gas, for general energy needs including the generation of electrical power, essentially hit the “snooze” button, got complacent, and ensconced into bliss of business as usual. However, the current unprovoked attack and continued carnage of Ukraine by Russia has shaken the energy realm, especially, in Western Europe. While countries like France, where 80% of electrical power is generated through nuclear fission, are largely insulated from current crisis in Ukraine, other Western European countries like Germany, which had invested heavily in the $10 Billion in the Nord Stream 2 Gas Line Project, in collaboration with Russia, are finally confronting their energy vulnerability and dependency on Russia.
Germany is, perhaps, a more significant case study in highlighting the impact of Russian invasion of Ukraine on the make up of electrical power generation in Europe. After the Japanese Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011, Germany, under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel, decided to abandon nuclear power generation. In the assessment of many energy experts, this was a misguided “knee-jerk” reaction by Germany. It was as if Germany was oblivious of the contributory negligence of Tepco, Daiichi, Management – Tepco had been aware of the danger of a mega tsunami since 2008. Tepco Management ignored the warnings of experts. The nuclear plant was vulnerable and in need of immediate improvements. However, Germany signaled a volte-face on key energy policies recently, floating the possibility of extending the life-spans of coal and even nuclear plants to cut dependency on Russian gas, part of a broad political rethink following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. This U-turn in German electrical power generation approach is significant. Even though approximately 50% of Germany’s electrical power today is generated through renewable sources, mainly, wind energy, the role of nuclear and gas based power generation, in catering to baseload, is undeniable.
In the wake of Russian invasion of Ukraine, the importance of nuclear power generation – being recognized in Germany – is expected to resonate and radiate throughout the rest of the world, beyond the epicenter of conflict in Ukraine. The change in electrical power generation approach will transcend nuclear power generation and will be manifest in greater reliance on coal and gas in the short term and beyond until the confluence of renewable electrical energy generation and storage can meet the base load energy demands. In other words, the architecture of electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution, in most developed nations, will resemble the diagram below: