#Commentary of Vladislav Berdichevsky on Ukrainian energy sector’s reforming process

Recently, Ukrainian President Poroshenko declared full readiness to abandon Donbass coal and to switch thermal power plants to other coal brands, which will be delivered from various countries around the world. By the way, the energy efficiency of the proposed brand of coal is much lower.

I will not touch on the political side of the issue (it is clear) – in no way let the DPR and LPR economically outstrip Ukraine, because for Poroshenko this will mean the total collapse of this circus. Therefore, Ukraine will buy coal two and a half times more expensive. If Ukrainians are willing to pay for all this in silence – why not buy…

The declared modernization of the 2nd power unit of the Zmievskaya TPP for G coal is finished, now the same process is taking place at the 5th block. The Zmievskaya TPP is located near Kharkov and is the largest power generating facility in this region. Its capacity is 2,200 MW. The main fuel for the TPP is coal of A and L types, on which all power units of the power plant can operate. Types G are gas, from the combustion of which the volatile content is much higher than the norm in comparison with anthracite.

According to the designers, the calculation of new parameters of the boiler operation was carried out, the modernization of a coal pulverization section was projected, including:

– replacement of coal pipes with their sealing and filling with a mixture of hot air and flue gases;

– increase in the power of coal-firing fans;

– installation of new burners for reliable operation on new fuel;

– replacement of “flashers” – devices that dispense the amount of coal dust for a mixture with air;

– installation of new slow-moving mills;

– replacement of reinforced concrete dust bins that do not provide a tightness to new, metal ones.

All this required a fairly large total installed cost. And the case of the executor entered into force. The customer, and after him the contractors went along the path of cost reduction. Accordingly, all modernization has been reduced to strengthening fire safety measures.

Chimneys, coal pipes for pulverized-coal handling, “flashers” were replaced, and new burners were installed. All other work is a standard work on the overhaul of the boiler. The biggest trouble is that the boiler was old. It does not have the same tightness as the new boiler, there are air leaks.

Naturally, there is no question of any savings. Instead of 200 MW, the 2nd unit guarantees only 175 MW of electric power.

But if the coal feed is filled with combustible gases, and air is sucked in, it is like a hole in the head, as increasing the concentration of oxygen in the air-coal mixture by more than 16% leads to spontaneous combustion. If you remember, at the Uglegorskaya TPP, running on coals of G and DG brand in 2013, the fire happened because of the depressurization of dust pipes. The oxygen concentration exceeded 16%, an explosion occurred, the return thrust drove the fire into a hopper with a pulverized coal mixture.

After that fire, the bunkers were replaced – from the reinforced concrete to the metal ones. At the Zmievskaya TPP, everything remained the same, although the “modernization” cost the Ukrainian taxpayer about 250 million hryvnia.

By the way, experts from the Uglegorskaya thermal power plant flatly refused to climb into these “modernized” bunkers, they very well remember how the air with coal dust burns right overhead.

Workers of the Zmievskaya TPP very much hope to survive this winter without accidents and catastrophes, although with such leadership in the country the hopes for this are already becoming illusory.

Alla Barkhatnova, Deputy Chairman of the DPR People’s Council deputy

Official website of the DPR People’s Council 

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