In the wake of Russian attacks on Ukraine's fragile energy infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for 50 million LED lightbulbs which would save around one gigawatt of power and reduce the current shortfall by about 40 per cent.
He made the appeal on Tuesday while virtually addressing an international aid conference hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. Since Russia launched its large scale missile strikes in October, millions across Ukraine are without power with winter temperatures plunging to below zero in parts of the war-torn nation.
Some regions now have electricity only for a few hours a day. Blackouts, both scheduled and unscheduled, have affected almost every part of Ukraine, some lasting days at a time. "The damage to Ukraine's energy infrastructure has caused an average shortfall of about two-and-a-half gigawatts of power," the BBC quoted Zelensky as saying at the conference.
"We need several categories of equipment -- transformers, equipment for restoring high-voltage networks, gas turbine and gas piston power units... At least until the end of this heating season in Ukraine, we need emergency support from the European energy system," he said.
The President also called on the European Union (EU) to "send special missions to the objects of critical energy infrastructure, which are involved in the energy supply of Ukraine and on which the stability of our entire region directly depends".
He also added that Ukraine needs support in the purchase of about two billion cubic meters of gas. "Around 12 million people in Ukraine are now disconnected from the electricity grid... Unfortunately, this is a typical situation for us.
And we expect new Russian strikes every day, which can dramatically increase the number of shutdowns." In response to Zelensky's appeal, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that 800 generators have already been mobilised for Ukraine.
Taking to Twitter, she said: "We will fund up to 30 million LED bulbs for Ukraine, for precious energy savings. When 50 million of these bulbs are deployed with our partners, this will save 1 GW -- the annual output of a nuclear plant!
"In times of darkness, we stand with our Ukrainian friends." Pledges at the conference totalled a little over 1 billion euros, with 415 million allocated to energy, according to French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
French President Emmanuel Macron described Russia's strikes on Ukraine's power grid as "cynical" and "cowardly", the BBC reported. "They violate without any doubt the most basic principles of humanitarian law. These acts are intolerable and will not go unpunished."