DTEK Completes First Phase of New Wind Farm Despite Ongoing War Disruptions

Ukrainian energy investor DTEK Group has reportedly completed the first phase of its Tyligulska wind power plant project, located in the country’s Mykolaiv region.

The achievement of this major milestone brings online a dozen wind turbines that will operate under some of the most challenging conditions anywhere in the world right now, just 60 miles away from the front lines with Russian forces.

According to DTEK Group, owned by Metinvest Group and System Capital Management Group boss Rinat Akhmetov, this first phase of the plant has a 114 megawatt capacity. The completed project will have 500 MW.

Phase one of Tyligulska is part of a broader renewable energy project dubbed 30 to 2030, which DTEK hopes will lead to the installation of 30 gigawatts in renewable energy capacity in Ukraine by the end of the decade.

In a March 2023 press release, Rinat Akhmetov stated: “The failure of Russia’s energy terror once again demonstrated the tenacity of Ukraine’s power engineers and clearly showed the importance of Ukraine moving toward energy independence and toward strengthening of our energy security.

“In 2022, we had big plans to build a new Tyligulska wind power plant. Unfortunately, the Russian invasion brought the project to a temporary halt. However, today I can announce that we have restarted the construction of the wind farm, and the first phase will be at full capacity in the coming weeks.”

Construction on the Tyligulska wind power project resumed following this temporary halt in response to Russia’s invasion, and workers were outfitted with body armor and other protections for their safety.

DTEK officials added that the company now intends to complete the Tyligulska project’s remaining planned capacity, as well as secure options for its further implementation.

Powering the Mykolaiv Region

The Tyligulska project is now helping to generate electricity for residents of the Mykolaiv region — which has suffered from blackouts as a result of the ongoing war — and the wider power grid. Ultimately, DTEK plans to install several dozen wind turbines that will generate enough energy to power more than half a million homes.

“When the war started and the focus was on how are we going to survive, we did not know what we would do with this huge construction project,” said Oleksandr Selyshchev, CEO of DTEK Renewables. “Then, the early wins of our army made it clear that victory was not in doubt, it was just a matter of time. So, we made the decision to continue building.”

The project comes online as Ukraine is attempting to demonstrate its alignment with the European Union’s plans for a greener power grid, with executives from DTEK — a company that was largely built on the back of coal — aggressively promoting the plan for 30 GW of clean power capacity by 2030.

Chasing this goal while the country and its power grid are under near-constant attack from Russian forces is a huge challenge. This is compounded by the fact that many of Ukraine’s most optimized sites for producing renewable energy are in or near Russian-occupied territory.

That said, wind turbines and solar installations come with the benefit that they’re not as vulnerable as fossil fuel plants, which are more compact, easier to damage, and tougher to rebuild.

“These installations are harder to destroy with missiles,” Tatyana Deryugina, an associate professor of finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and expert in Ukraine energy, told The Washington Post. “They are more spread out. It is harder to knock them offline. Even if you knock a wind turbine or some solar panels out, there are others still standing.”

Another DTEK solar farm in the Kherson region, for example, was partially destroyed by Russian shelling. It was repaired and brought back online very quickly after Ukraine regained control of the area in October. These solar panels are now bringing electricity to a community near the front lines that would otherwise have been left in the dark had it been reliant on electricity from a gas or coal plant.

“Even in wartime, we will continue with this transition,” Selyshchev promised.