The Kiev School of Economics keeps a running account of damage to Ukraine's infrastructure. As of May 25, it totaled over $105 billion, including 44 million square miles of residential buildings, 15,000 miles—or 14 percent—of all roads—and according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy, $2 billion in damage to energy infrastructure. The extent of that damage will, almost certainly, grow. And the cost of rebuilding will, almost certainly, rise. And yet, eventually, the war in Ukraine will end, and the country will in all likelihood undergo a massive reconstruction.

Such a moment presents a historic opportunity. Ukraine could rebuild in a way that would both lower its carbon footprint and construct infrastructure resilient to the effects of climate change. Such transitions toward a clean, efficient, and resilient infrastructure are generally quite costly. Part of this cost normally comes from stranded assets—that is, assets no longer economical in the new sustainable grid design that need to be decommissioned.

For instance, in the United States, the estimated mean cost per megawatt to retire a coal-fired power plant is $117,000. The average U.S. coal plant has a capacity of about 350 megawatts, which means decommissioning a typical American coal plant costs more than $40 million. The typical coal plant in Ukraine has even larger capacity—on average about 1,133 megawatts.

As horrible as the destruction of Ukraine is, a small portion of the infrastructure that has been badly damaged or destroyed might inadvertently also reduce the costs of a possible future transition to a cleaner energy infrastructure, as many of its stranded assets have been permanently decommissioned by the war.

Read the full article about rebuilding Ukraine by Mark Stalczynski,  Ismael Arciniegas Rueda, and Nihar Chhatiawala at RAND Corporation.