Carbon-neutral Zhytomyr: 100% RES transition scenarios by 2050

Yuliia Melnyk-Pashkovska

An energy transition for the entire city? Why not? After all, only ambitious and audacious goals bring on the development. Searching its way to the energy
transition, Zhytomyr resorted to modeling various scenarios that lead to the goal – in order to choose the best one. The simulation results confirmed that Zhytomyr can switch to 100% use of renewable energy sources by 2050.

100% RES– by 2050

In 2018 Zhytomyr became the first city in Eastern Europe to state an objective to switch to 100% renewable energy. This is not only electricity obtained within
the city and the agglomeration from renewable energy, but also purchased from suppliers who transmit it through the general energy system of Ukraine, but
declare it as «clean». Therefore, switching to the RES does not necessarily mean disconnecting from the general Ukrainian power system. Finally, at the national
level, there is also an intention to in crease the share of «clean» energy in the electrical energy sector up to 70% by 2050.

In 2018, the mayor of Zhytomyr Serhii Sukhomlyn signed a memorandum on cooperation with the international climate organization And a year later in the framework of this cooperation, scientists from the Institute of Economics and
Forecasting of NAS of Ukraine modeled four scenarios for the Zhytomyr's energy transition system to 100% RES.

The simulation revealed that Zhytomyr can technically switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050. The annual investment in the implementation of the strategy
is about 100 thousand euros, the total amount is from 2.1 to 2.8 billion euros for the whole period, depending on the selected scenario. However, these are preliminary
calculations, so the cost may vary due to force majeure and new trends in energetics and the world economy, because, according to Oleksandr Diachuk, a scientist
and the author of the document, now Ukrainian prices correspond to the global level. In addition, the scenarios take into account only the share of RES in the overall energy balance of the city, and not the structure of renewable generation. That is, they do not specify what percentage of energy should come from a clean energy source. Decisions depend on agreements with investors, development plans,
the cost of specific technologies at a certain time.

«Back in 2018, we started dreaming that the intention of Zhytomyr to move to 100% RES by 2050 would be strengthened by a quality transition plan. We talked about
this with mayor Serhii Sukhomlyn, he got interested, and the team decided to support the development of the script financially and expertly. For 1.5 years, together with scientists from the Institute of Economics and Forecasting of NAS
of Ukraine and specialists of the Zhytomyr City Council, we have been searching for data, calculating different transition scenarios, and finally, in 2020, the dream came
true: a ready-made scenario was presented to Zhytomyr residents and Ukrainians. Our team expects that this document will assist the city to attract foreign investment
in the energy transition. There are also hopes that the mayors of other cities will follow the example of Zhytomyr's ambitious climate policy and will act more decisively on the renewable energy sources development. Currently, local
authorities have many opportunities to change national policy,» says Yuliia Melnyk (Pashkovska), coordinator of the scenario development for Zhytomyr's transition to
100% RES.

«Clean» city scenarios

Overall, scientists have proposed 4 scenarios that in one way or another lead to the achievement of carbon neutrality in Zhytomyr.

The essence of the first – «if everything goes as it goes». That is, if the city government does not implement «green» solutions and build new facilities to generate «green» energy. Under these conditions, the cost of «traditional»
energy sources is projected to increase and the need to implement the provisions of international regulations, for example, EU environmental directives is not

The other three scenarios differ in the share of «clean» energy that must be imported, i.e. received from the general energy system of Ukraine. When modeling, scientists advise not to consider the option of «autonomy», i.e. complete
disconnection from the national energy capacity – just to generate more «clean» energy.

The first scenario: 50% of «clean» energy is generated by the city, and 50% is purchased from RES producers, for example, solar power plants in the Kherson region, where there is always a surplus of energy that they will be willing to sell.

The second scenario: the city produces as much «green» energy as it consumes. But since it will be necessary to achieve an energy balance, part of the energy will
be exported, another part will be imported, so that in the end net import equals zero. That is, for example, the city is building several SPPs, and on «cloudy days» it lacks its own generation – then it imports «energy from the south». On sunny
days, when the city has a surplus of energy, it returns it to the energy system for other regions as an export.

The third scenario is related to the expectation that Ukraine will move to 70% RES in the electrical energy industry by 2050. The city then takes this share of «clean» energy from the general energy system and additionally generates the rest of
the energy from renewable sources for its own needs.
Where does energy go?

When creating the scenarios, the researchers analyzed data on both generation and energy consumption by the city. The population, industry, transport and service industry consume the most. There are 2 compulsory ways in each of these categories: to reduce energy consumption and switch to the consumption of «clean» energy.

When it comes to population, the main path is energy efficiency. Insulation of houses will reduce the cost of heating in winter and air conditioning in summer. Installation
of roof boilers or rooftop SPPs will provide electricity for the whole house. When building new highrise buildings, it is possible to immediately plan their energy
supply at the expense of exclusively «green» energy: solid fuel boilers, SPPs, electric ovens and electric stoves instead of gas, etc.

The refocus of the industry on the RES energy usage will minimize emissions and neutralize the remaining share of emissions owing to vegetation.

As for transport, the solutions are currently expensive and difficult to implement. Electric transport is still much more expensive than the traditional one, so it is unlikely to be introduced to the masses. However, such solutions can be at least at the level of the public transport system and the transition to trams and trolleybuses instead of buses and minibuses. At the level of private transport, the use of biofuels or hydrogen is almost non-existent due to the lack of production, supply and profitability.

What are the advantages?

The implementation of energy transition scenarios is very beneficial for the city – both scientists and representatives of the international organization
emphasize. After all, this will give a stable energy system of the city, flexible and ready for challenges – able to balance the use of energy from different technologies.

During the climate crisis and the prospects of joining the European green course programs, the city authorities have many opportunities to find additional income for such changes through grant and investment programs, technical support programs, and soft financing. Such funds should be spent not only on the construction
of new power plants, boiler stations, but also on infrastructure – the modernization of obsolete grids.

There are also advantages for the city residents: new work positions at new enterprises, construction and operation of new facilities, the possibility of retraining. In fact, the city's energy transition will bring new social standards: well-paid jobs, economic growth and sustainable development of the city. The «green» generation will contribute to a better situation with emissions, less damage to health, and therefore, the perception of the city as more prosperous for life.

An example for others

Svitlana Romanko, managing director of the international climate organization in the EECCA region (Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia), highlights that this scenario is the first document that contains a thorough mathematical
modeling and takes into account economic, development and energy consumption. Its implementation depends on the will of the city authorities and the community.
At the same time, other cities and communities can refer to the «Energy Transition» Coalition for cooperation in creating similar scenarios for their settlements,
taking into account certain source data and specifics.

Oleksandr Diachuk adds: this document could become a basis for energy transition scenarios in other cities. However, he emphasizes that these are only possible directions of development, not the forecast future, and the specific strategy will
depend on the cost of technologies, the chosen set of actions, and legislative decisions.