Geothermal solutions and heat pumps will provide Ukraine with heat for 50 years and reduce its cost for the population – Olena Pavlenko | DiXi Group
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Geothermal solutions and heat pumps will provide Ukraine with heat for 50 years and reduce its cost for the population – Olena Pavlenko

On 15 May, Kyiv hosted the conference
‘District Heating Reform: Using Heat Pumps’, jointly organised by DiXi Group and NGO Ecoclub.

The district heating system (DH) is the main source of heat in public buildings and multi-apartment residential buildings in Ukraine. At the same time, heating networks in cities are 70-80% worn out, and heat losses can reach 20-30%. It is because of these indicators that the number of consumers has halved in recent decades. 

During the event, Vasyl Shkurakov, Acting Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine, spoke about the new State Targeted Economic Programme for the Modernisation of District Heating Companies. According to him, previous programmes did not achieve the expected results due to a lack of financial resources and problems with payments for natural gas.

In his turn, Oleksandr Formagay, a member of the NEURC Commission, said that together with the Ministry of Community, Territorial and Infrastructure Development, they are discussing a change in the logic of tariff setting so that companies can invest in the renewal of fixed assets or change approaches to the formation of investment programmes with a transition to long-term planning of at least 5 years. 

He also outlined 3 main trends in the development of the heat supply sector in Ukraine. 

‘The first is the transition from centralised to moderately centralised heat supply with the development of decentralised sources, cogeneration or other installations that will operate using waste heat, including heat pumps. The second is to increase investment and reduce losses within heat supply, heat transmission and generation companies and energy efficiency on the consumer side. The third area is the wider use of alternative, renewable sources that will allow us to become independent of fossil fuels,’ he stressed.

Ukraine is now in a situation where it is necessary to look for very non-standard solutions, said Olena Pavlenko, President of DiXi Group. According to her, on the one hand, Ukraine has international obligations to decarbonise – we must slowly abandon coal and gas for heating in the future. On the other hand, we have to take care of the country’s energy security, as the Russians are deliberately attacking our energy system, destroying it. Therefore, we cannot install boilers that run on electricity alone, as we need to have alternative power sources.

‘Ukraine should rely on cooperation with international partners and their experience. For example, the EU and the US have strategies for using heat pumps, as well as technologies that make the use of such pumps even more efficient. This is combined with geothermal solutions – the heat that is literally under our feet – the heat of the earth. The mix of such technologies can provide the population with fairly efficient and inexpensive heating in winter, as well as efficient cooling in summer,’ said the head of DiXi Group.

Olena Pavlenko added that for Ukraine, this technology can become a concrete solution in reforming the district heating system and energy security, in particular. After all, geothermal energy, unlike many other sources, is constant – we will have guaranteed heat for 50 years to come. 

This position was also supported by Andris Griffois, a member of the European Committee of the Regions. He added that geothermal technologies are mature. Nevertheless, more work needs to be done at the EU level to identify new opportunities for the use of geothermal sources. The Committee of the Regions plans to develop a programme of state guarantees for the implementation of such solutions. 

‘We at the Committee of the Regions would like to help Ukraine work on this topic in the same way. Geothermal sustainability of cities is something we are working on. However, in order to identify the potential of geothermal energy, market opportunities should be carefully studied to reduce the risk of environmental damage. It is necessary to engage the support of local experts and universities to explore existing engineering solutions with a view to expanding them. I think that in this area, Ukraine and the EU can interact productively in exchanging knowledge and experience,’ he said at the conference.

Sanjeev Kumar, Head of Policy at the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC), provided working examples of geothermal technologies in his report. In 2022, 2.19 million geothermal heat pumps were installed across Europe, and this rate is only growing. Sweden, Germany and France are the leaders in the implementation of geothermal solutions in the EU. For example, Munich (Germany) has developed a plan to convert all of the city’s heat generation to geothermal sources, and the city of Charleroi (Belgium) covers 70 to 90% of its heat needs from geothermal sources. There is no need to wait for such pilot projects to be implemented at the national level – local governments can take on this responsibility, said Sanjeev Kumar. 

Geothermal technologies have opened up many opportunities for the United States, and they are now a priority in the country’s energy policy, said Sean Porse, head of the Data, Modelling and Analysis programme at the US Department of Energy’s Office of Geothermal Technology. 

‘Over the past two years, the use of geothermal technologies at the national level has seen evidence of the effectiveness of such solutions. First and foremost, heat pumps reduce carbon emissions, increase the energy resilience of communities, and also allow for significant savings. The US has ambitious decarbonisation targets. Heat pumps can be effective in achieving them. In addition, consumers can save money and keep jobs in the regions where the transformation is taking place,’ Sean Porce emphasised in his speech. 

He added that if the United States continues to implement heat pumps, by 2050, the country will be able to reduce the need to build new infrastructure networks by 43,600 miles, the need for generation by 410 GW, and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 7 gigatons. The US has also calculated the financial benefits: by 2050, it will be able to save about $1.6 trillion. 

The conference also discussed cases and programmes already operating in Ukraine. 

In particular, Andriy Martyniuk, Executive Director of the NGO Ecoclub, stressed the importance of reforming the district heating system in Ukraine through the use of geothermal technologies and shared the organisation’s plans in this context.  

‘District heating systems can significantly reduce the cost of transition to climate-neutral heating. The use of heat pumps is a solution that can improve the quality of district heating services and reduce their cost for consumers. Ecoclub, together with Ukrainian communities, has planned to install two heat pumps this year: for a hospital in Kostopil and for a children’s swimming pool in Zvyagel. We will continue to work together with communities interested in developing district heating, provide expert support, and help them find partners and funding,’ he said.

Dmytro Syrykh, Acting Technical Director of the Energy Efficiency Fund of Ukraine, spoke about the existing programmes. He shared that during the full-scale war, the Fund opened the opportunity for houses to apply for modernisation of the heating system – installation of individual heating points (IHPs). The Fund’s goal for the current year is to enable condominiums to apply for facade insulation. In addition, a pilot project for the installation of solar stations and heat pumps called Grindim was launched for homeowners who have a housing cooperative or condominium, aimed at stimulating the use of alternative energy sources.

The event was also attended by Yevhen Magliovannii, DiXi Group’s General Manager of Consumer Advisory Services, who shared steps to overcome organisational and technical barriers to the application of heat pump technology in district heating companies.

We thank all the participants and speakers for the fruitful discussion! Watch the video of the event here.

The event was supported by USAID as part of the Energy Sector Transparency Project, implemented by DIXI GROUP, and the European Union as part of the Closing the Loop: Just Energy Transition for Cities and Regions project.


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Information and analitical website “Ukrainian Energy” is unique   platform to inform