Aug. 21 (UPI) -- A Ukrainian government working to break out from under a Russian shadow said it's developed a road map for a sustainable energy future.
Ukrainian energy security issues pre-date the outbreak of conflict that reached its zenith when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison a few years before the conflict on charges she abused authority when she helped broker a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia's Gazprom. She later faced a $2.4 million suit for mismanaging her country's United Energy Systems in the 1990s.
The European economy counts on Russian natural gas for about a quarter of its needs, though the majority of that gas runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine. Vice Prime Minister Volodymyr Kistion said a policy strategy through 2035 aims to cut energy consumption by half and boost both conventional and alternative sources of energy. He stressed, however, that the strategy is only a signpost.
"The energy strategy only envisages goals, the implementation of which should be reflected in a step-by-step approach," he said in a statement. "Given the above, there is still much work to do."
According to the strategy, Ukraine by 2035 would get about half of its electricity needs met by nuclear power, 24 percent from hydropower and the rest for thermal-electric power stations.
As a Soviet republic, Ukraine suffered one of the worst nuclear disasters in history in the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
Ukraine is among the Eastern European countries thought to be rich in shale natural gas reserves. Royal Dutch Shell at one point had a contract to explore what the Ukrainian government said was an area said to contain about 4 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas.
Ukraine's economy continues to struggle more than three years after the Russian involvement that followed Kiev's pivot toward the European Union. Growth in gross domestic production should be around 2 percent this year, though the International Monetary Fund said there's a "critical" need for structural economic reforms.