In what is still a developing situation, Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was disconnected from the country's grid yesterday for the first time in its nearly 40 years of operation. Highlighting the danger this presents, Ukraine President Zelensky said the world had just narrowly avoided a "radiation disaster".
Zaporizhzhia, consisting of 6 reactors and a net capacity of 5,700 megawatts when fully operational, is Ukraine and Europe's largest nuclear power plant. Besides the great concern regarding the ongoing risk of a disaster occurring at the site, there is also a fundamental problem facing Ukraine so long as reactors are shut down, off the grid or under Russian control.
As this infographic shows, nuclear power contributes to Ukraine's electricity generation more than any other source, with 76 million megawatt hours produced in 2020 - ahead of fossil fuels and a long way in front of renewable sources. Zaporizhzhia's full capacity also puts it far ahead of other plants in the country. With Zaporizhzhia out, accouting for six of a total 15 reactors across all sites, Ukraine faces a very serious energy supply issue.