UNDP and Japan deliver high-power autotransformers to Ukraine, ensure unbroken energy supplies to over a half a million people

October 5, 2023
Photo: Ksenia Nevenchenko / UNDP in Ukraine

Kyiv, 5 October 2023 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine, with generous funding from the Government of Japan and working closely with Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy of Ukraine and national power company Ukrenergo, has procured and delivered two new powerful autotransformers to Ukraine.

High-power transformers are essential components of power substations, which regulate electricity voltage in transmission lines. Electricity is transmitted at high voltages but needs to be converted to lower voltages for distribution to consumers. Autotransformers perform this task automatically. Without these transformers, the grid cannot operate efficiently and supply electricity to households and other end users.

UNDP’s Energy Damage Assessment of June 2023 found that attacks on civilian infrastructure had slashed Ukraine’s power generation capacity by around a half (51%) of transmission capacity by 45% (with 42 out of 94 high-voltage transformers damaged or destroyed), necessitating the prioritization of investments in energy. 

Herman Galushchenko, Minister of Energy of Ukraine, said the autotransformers were among the key targets during the massive attacks last winter. “The Russians were destroying the equipment that transmits and supplies electricity to Ukrainians,” he said. “Replacing such autotransformers takes time and money, and their critical importance extends to the entire country. Therefore, this assistance from Japan and UNDP is invaluable for us, and stands as a powerful contribution to ensuring Ukraine’s energy security as we approach a challenging winter. We hope this partnership will enable us to navigate through the season with dignity.” 

As UNDP Resident Representative of Ukraine Jaco Cilliers points out, dependable power is the backbone of any thriving nation: “By fortifying Ukraine’s energy grid, we’re not only providing electricity, but also building up the nation’s resilience,” he said. “In the face of enormous challenges, particularly the relentless attempts to disrupt Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, this partnership symbolizes our unwavering commitment to stand by the Ukrainian people.”

Last winter, Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure damaged most of the country’s substations – some beyond repair. As a result, Ukraine was hit by widespread power outages, affecting approximately 12 million people. 

The scale of the problem is colossal. Everyday activities, be it a child studying at home or a family cooking dinner, became daunting challenges. Meanwhile, for Ukrainian businesses, the outages result in significant income losses, inevitably affecting their employees and families.

High-power transformers, such as those UNDP is now delivering to Ukraine, are also critical for maintaining other essential utilities. Energy is needed to run the pumps, ensuring every household has access to clean water and effective sewage systems. Moreover, during Ukraine’s frigid winters, many Ukrainians need power to run electric heaters.

By providing Ukraine with autotransformers, UNDP also aims to shield families from the risks of unsafe water sources, potential sewage backups, and the dangers of resorting to hazardous heating methods.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Kuninori Matsuda, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Ukraine, said that Japan was determined to support Ukraine for as long as necessary, which includes providing various kinds of support to keep the people of Ukraine warm and provided with power this winter. “The purpose is to contribute to the Ukrainian people's stable and undisrupted power supply through a winter season during which they may face Russian aggression.”

Ambassador Matsuda also announced additional support, saying, "Today, as we mark the installation of the first batch of autotransformers, Japan pledges its support for the procurement of two additional autotransformers and more support through UNDP."

CEO of Ukrenergo National Energy Company Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said these are the first new autotransformers for high-voltage substations purchased with funds from international donors. "We’re incredibly grateful to the Government of Japan and the entire UNDP team for their speed and courage in implementing this project,” he said. “UNDP was the first among Ukraine’s international donors to efficiently navigate the complex path of procuring and delivering sophisticated high-tech equipment for our country. In the energy sector, this usually takes many months. Equipment that will provide electricity to over half a million Ukrainians will already now be operational during this heating season.”

Media enquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Head of Communications; e-mail: yuliia.samus@undp.org 

UNDP and Japan deliver high-power autotransformers to Ukraine