This analytical paper compiles information on the current state of the Ukrainian coal sector in light of the military conflict in eastern Ukraine and in the context of ongoing energy sector reform.
This paper is intended as a comprehensive analysis of the country’s coal sector based on existing data. It is beyond the scope of this research to develop reliable scenarios and timelines for the future role of coal in the Ukrainian energy mix. However, we aim to bring up a painful subject, to raise questions and to bring attention to these issues.
Globally, coal’s stars are fading. The fuel source is one of the biggest challenges for climate change. If governments worldwide are serious about the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C, there will be a price tag for CO2 sooner or later. International investors are beginning to hesitate before investing in coal. Local populations are suffering from air pollution and dangerous work conditions in mines that devastate the environment and already scarce water resources. Meanwhile, much more is being invested into renewables, which are becoming more and more economically reasonable even without subsidies.
Ukraine should define the future of its coal sector very carefully. Much more research is needed to propose a realistic transition path to a future of sustainable energy for the country. However, there is a lot indicating that this future can be based on decentralized generation from various renewable sources, complemented in the short term by gas-based capacities that can be efficiently used to balance fluctuating renewables. Thus, dependency on expensive imported coal and nuclear fuel can be avoided and energy security can be increased. Other countries can serve as examples of how a transition based on efficiency and renewables can create jobs and innovation for the domestic economy.