Ukraine mulls heating homes with garbage

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State energy major Naftogaz plans to build three power plants fueled by solid waste

Ukraine may switch from natural gas to garbage and biomass for heating as early as next year, the CEO of state energy major Naftogaz, Yury Vitrenko, said at a press briefing on Saturday. According to the official, the company could build three combined heating and power plants in Zhitomir that will be powered by municipal solid waste and wood chips.

Zhytomyr’s experience shows that in most cases it is possible by the next heating season to switch from natural gas in heating generation to biomass, garbage,” Vitrenko said, as cited by Ukrinform news agency.

Vitrenko explained that a cogeneration power and heating plant which will run on these types of fuel is currently under construction in Zhitomir. According to the official, it is more profitable for Naftogaz to launch projects such as this now than to buy gas.

We are attracting funds from international partners for this purpose. Such projects are technically and economically feasible and help to make the entire energy sector sustainable in the future. We must realize how important it is to switch from natural gas to biomass, alternative sources, heat pumps as soon as possible, because with the market price on gas the payback period of such projects is 2-3 months,” Vitrenko stated.

Analysts say it is unlikely that the plans outlined by Vitrenko will be successful. Former Naftogaz spokesman Maksim Beliavsky recently warned that the large-scale conversion of Ukraine’s power system to biomass is unrealistic, as it would take $100 million in investments to produce just 1 million cubic meters of biomass energy per year. In 2021, Ukraine burned roughly 19.4 billion cubic meters of gas during the heating season.

Last month, Vitrenko warned that Ukraine may face a gas shortage in the upcoming winter, which could lead to power cuts in large parts of the country. He advised Ukrainians to stock up on blankets and warm clothes, noting that this year’s heating season will start later and end earlier, while winter temperatures in apartments will be set at 17-18C, four degrees below the standard temperature.

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