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Canadian builder Aecon to join GE Vernova, Bechtel and Dogus in rebuilding Ukrainian hydropower infrastructure

Ukrhydroenergo CEO Ihor Syrota (left) shares hands with Aecon Group founder and Chairman John Beck (Photo by Ukrhydroenergo)

Aecon, one of Canada's largest publicly traded construction firms, has agreed to help rebuild Ukraine's hydropower facilities, including taking part in the $1 billion reconstruction of the Kahkhovka hydropower dam destroyed in an explosion in June, Ukraine's state-owned power producer Ukrhydroenergo said.

In a trip to Canada by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the two company signed a memorandum of understanding that "sets out the intentions of Ukrainian and Canadian companies to cooperate in the construction of the Kanivska PSP and Kakhovska HPP," the Ukrainian firm said in a press release.

"Partnership with a company that has such a long-standing professional experience in infrastructure development, including energy facilities, will be another important element in the construction and rehabilitation of Ukrainian hydroelectric power plants," said Ihor Syrota, CEO of Ukrhydroenergo.

Ukrhydroenergo, which has a total installed capacity of 5.844 MW in 10 hydropower stations, didn't specify the type of work Aecon will carry out on the 351 MW Kakhovska hydropower facility, nor did it outline the type of repairs needed on the 444 MW Kanisvka pumped storage project.

The Kakhovska plant was completely destroyed in an explosion in June while the Kanivska project, partially built with financing from the World Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) before the war, was set for eventual expansion. Shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, the World Bank and the IBRD also approved a $212 million financing package to install 197-megawatt short-duration battery energy storage systems combined with solar power plants at four hydropower plant sites, including the Kanivska.

The energy sector is a major component of plans to rebuild Ukraine after the war, with international lenders, the European Union and the Ukrainian government emphasizing plans to steer Ukraine's energy dependency away from fossil fuels and synchronize its systems with most other systems in Europe.

In Canada, Aecon is currently building the country's largest battery storage facility, helping construct Canada's first grid-scale Small Modular Reactor (SMR) in a partnership with GE Hitachi, and carrying out other projects linked to a shift away from fossil fuels.

Last week, GE Vernova also signed an agreement to work on reconstruction of the Kakhovka dam, following similar agreements by Bechtel, Korea's K-Water and Turkey's Dogus Group in recent months.

Repair works needed as a result of the destruction of the Kakhovka facility extend well beyond the Dnieper River dam. The KSE Institute of the Kiev School of Economics says repair to infrastructure washed out in the flooding, including 290 kms of roads, will cost $311 million. Flooding from the explosion also caused $105 million in damage to surrounding industrial sites and $25 million in damage to agriculture, according to the study.

The circumstances of the explosion are not clear, with Russians and Ukrainians blaming each other. The dam was under Russian control at the time of the explosion, which the Ukrainian government said shows the Russians blew it up. However, Ukraine was preparing a major offensive in the area at the time and the Russians accuse Ukraine of blowing up the dam to advance military objectives.

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