Russia planned to shut down the ZNPP so that it could later be connected to Crimea back in May. Olga Kosharna, an expert on nuclear energy and safety, a former member of the Board of the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine, told The Insider about this.
According to her, when the units are stopped due to damage to the distribution line and the generator at power unit No. 6 has been operating at residual capacity for several hours, everything goes to the internal needs of the station. In this case, when the generator stops, standby diesel generators will be connected.
“Since the station is disconnected from the integrated energy system, it cannot receive electricity for its needs, the reserves of this diesel fuel will be limited. According to the regulations, it should be enough for ten days, but, most likely, in fact, for a smaller amount. The safety of the systems will depend on the logistics of getting enough diesel fuel for these standby diesel generators.”
However, even if the station is turned off, people will receive electricity. The expert clarified that the occupied territories of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions received electricity from a certain energy system of Ukraine, and the fact that the unit was turned off would not affect the supply.
“Power is being delivered on high-voltage lines of 750 kV, and the distribution network has both 150 and 330 kV, so the fact that it has stopped will not affect the supply of electricity to the population in the occupied territories. If we now export electricity to Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova, then we have an excess amount.”
According to her, the plans of the Russian authorities to use the shutdown of the station as a pretext for connecting to Crimea have been known since May. At the end of July, Russia was restoring the line from the Crimean Isthmus to the Kakhovskaya substation, and on August 4, part of this plan was implemented at the ZNPP, the expert recalls. Before switching the station to the Russian energy system, it must be turned off, and for the needs of the station itself, electricity must be supplied from the Crimea through the Dzhankoy and Kakhovskaya substations. Kosharna explains that the station can then be connected through the Russian power grid:
“As soon as this plan appeared that electricity would be supplied from Crimea for their own needs (the station), a multi-ton support suddenly fell on the newly restored power line from the occupied Kherson region, and on August 17 the Dzhankoyskaya substation suddenly exploded.”
The substation, according to Kosharna, cannot be repaired, and now it is necessary to build a new one, so for now Russia is silent, since it does not have the technical capability for this. The expert expressed confidence that the pylons would fall and the substations in Crimea would burn. Russia wanted not only to connect the station to the Crimea, but also to turn off all generations in the occupied territories, then connect it to the unified energy system of Russia and supply "from the Kherson region to the Krasnodar Territory." However, so far the country does not have the technical capability, so blackmail is being used to "put Ukraine at the negotiating table." The connection process in Crimea could take Russia at least six months, Koszarna adds:
“They spent three months restoring the line from the isthmus, which was undermined by our partisans in December 2015. It may take eight months, but I think there is no chance now. I am sure that third forces will not bomb transformer substations in the occupied territory, but the poles will fall and substations in Crimea will burn.”
On September 5, Zaporozhye NPP for the second time in history was completely disconnected from the power grid connecting the station with the power system of Ukraine. This happened due to a fire caused by shelling, Ukrainian Energoatom reported. For the first time in its history, the ZNPP was completely disconnected from the power grid on August 25, 2022. According to nuclear physicist Andrey Ozharovsky, the Russian authorities can use the shutdown of the station as an excuse to connect it to the Crimea. This will require the restoration of transmission lines towards the Crimea and Russia and the synchronization of generators with the Russian power system.
Earlier, The Insider had at its disposal a video of the operation of Russian multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) from the territory of the ZNPP, it was filmed on the night of September 2-3. The footage shows that the MLRS are located in close proximity to the power unit.