Yesterday, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, was fully disconnected from the electrical grid for the first time in its history. “Today, on August 25, 2022, the last (fourth) line connecting the Zaporizhzhia NPP to the Ukrainian electrical grid – the 750 kV Overhead Line ZNPP – Dneprovskaya – was interrupted twice due to the fires on the Zaporizhzhia CHP ash dumps located nearby the Zaporizhzhia NPP,” Enrgoatom reported.
CNN released satellite images by Planet Labs and the European Space Agency showing fires and smoke near the Zaporizhzhia NPP. Three satellite images captured on August 24 at 10:39, 11:30, and 11:35 a.m. local time feature fire to the south of the plant and smoke spreading across the northern part of the facility.
Since the three remaining lines had been damaged by shellfire earlier, the two operating NPP units were cut off from the power supply. As energy experts explained to The Insider a sudden blackout at the NPP could result in a core meltdown in the absence of an emergency power supply. At the moment, the transmission line from the Zaporizhzhia CHP covers the NPP’s internal energy needs.
According to nuclear physicist Andrey Ozharsky, Russian authorities could use the disconnection of the NPP from the Ukrainian grid as a pretext for its redirection to Crimea. However, this would require restoring power transmission lines toward Crimea and Russia and synchronizing its generators with the Russian grid.
“The Ukrainian power grid is currently out of sync with the Russian one. We are using alternating current, which implies that all generators within a single grid must operate in sync. This doesn't mean the systems are completely cut off from each other, but a direct power exchange is impossible without so-called direct-current inserts. a giant, costly object. As I understand, it's not currently available because the two countries’ power grids used to run in sync. Such facilities are yet to be built.” In addition, transmission lines are impossible to protect from sabotage attacks. One such attack in 2015 proved successful, as the Ukrainians blew up multiple transmission towers on the line supplying Crimea. After that, the peninsula was critically low on electricity, with rotating blackouts every two hours for a month. The situation was not remedied until Russia completed the construction of two large cogeneration plants and a power bridge from the mainland.”