"The most difficult winter has passed, the next step is to start exporting electricity, which will allow us to attract additional financial resources for the necessary reconstruction of the destroyed and damaged energy infrastructure." - Herman Halushchenko, Energy Minister of Ukraine.
The above statement by the Ukrainian minister was unthinkable four months ago when Russia was launching punishing strikes on Ukraine. However, coming to April 2023, by announcing the decision to export electricity Ukraine has shown remarkable resilience and has definitely generated a case study in fighting against all odds for the world. Read about the news here.
Ukraine’s power grid has produced surplus electricity for the first time in many months. Streetlights are back in Ukraine and which has resulted in the streets buzzing again with activity. Electric Trams are running again in Kyiv. Read about the news here. How did Ukraine achieve this? In this blog, we will be discussing this incredible story and also try to extract lessons in order to learn what it takes to be resilient.
UKRAINE’S DARK WINTER
“At the moment we are hearing again of brutal Russian missile attacks on Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Lviv and other places, and especially again on civilian infrastructure.” - Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister
In November 2022, Ukrainian Energy Facilities were pounded with missile strikes knocking them out. Neighboring country Moldova is connected to Ukraine’s power grid and subsequently, Moldova lost half its power as well due to the strikes on Ukraine. Ukraine also disconnected three of its nuclear plants from the power grid as a safety measure. Subsequently, Ukraine lost its connection with the European power grid due to the strikes.
The consequence of not having power in a country like Ukraine during winter can be devastating. With no power, individuals cannot have access to heating systems. There is a real possibility of individuals freezing to death in these circumstances.
As per Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Andry Kostin who said in March 2023, that since Russia started bombing infrastructure in October 2022, Russia has hit 112 different targets with 255 missiles. Read about the news here.
SO HOW DID UKRAINE MANAGE TO SUSTAIN ITS POWER GRIDS?
“They wanted to initiate a long-term blackout and to freeze our big cities. The idea was to force us to negotiate not through emerging victorious on the battlefield but by terrorizing the population.” - Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the C.E.O. of Ukrenergo, a power transmission company.
The major factors as to why Ukraine was able to sustain its power grid are as follows:
1. Air defense systems
The Air defense systems provided by Western allies played a key role in ensuring that the power systems could be protected from missile strikes.
2. Plans to reduce dependence on Russian Energy -
A lot of pre-war planning on steps that could be done to reduce dependence on Russian energy.
3. Competent power engineers and energy grid workers
Any system can only be resilient if there are competent individuals who can restore the system to its original state.
4. Critical supplies
To ensure the grid can be restored to its original state, it is essential to have a supply of essential parts for the grid, Ukraine managed to achieve the supply of essential parts to ensure that continuity is maintained.
POINTS OF INVINCIBILITY-A RESILIENCE SHELTER
“We celebrate not a year of the war, but a year of resilience, humanity, and salvation. A year of united Ukraine that has changed the world.” - Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska.
So how did Ukrainians survive the cold in winter when power systems were down due to the strikes?
Ukrainian President Zelensky announced the invincibility project which can basically be called resilient shelters. In case of a power outage due to a Russian Strike and if there is an understanding that power will not be restored soon, residents can take shelter in the invincibility shelters. Invincibility shelters offer electricity, warmth, tea, sandwiches, etc. among many other things. Read about the news here. Such shelters played an important role in ensuring Ukrainians stand resilient in the face of biting cold.
THE UKRAINIAN POWER GRID WORKER
“The station is like an organism, each organ in it has some significance. But too many organs are already damaged, it hurts me so much to watch all this. This is inhuman stress. We carried this station in our arms like a child,” - a Ukrainian Energy grid worker.
This story of resilience will be incomplete without mentioning the Ukrainian energy grid worker. Reports indicate that many energy workers have lost their lives in attacks on power grids. However, despite the risks they worked round the clock to restore the grid services despite a direct threat to their lives. The spirit of the Ukrainian Grid Worker is commendable and is a living testament to why Ukraine’s power grid is still standing and marching on.
The story of Ukraine is a case study of the fact that it is absolutely critical that resilience should be embedded not only among organizations but among the employees as well, only then will an organization be ready to face any adversity. Ukraine is a story of grit and determination and the decision to export power is a testament to the fact that as long as the nation along with its people are resilient, it can rise like a phoenix against any adversity.
So, are you ready to incorporate resilience not only in your organization but also among your employees?
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At Gorisco, our motto is 'Embedding Resilience' and we are committed to making the organizations and their workforce resilient. Reach out to us if you have any queries, clarifications, or need any support on your initiatives.
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