War in Ukraine: Petrol stations and shopping centres with generators used by Ukrainians to work during blackouts

Ukrainians are using petrol stations and shopping centres with generators as hubs to keep working during power blackouts.

Any public spaces with their own private generators are overwhelmed as soon as power goes out – as home-working Ukrainians strive to keep their jobs going.

Petrol stations are a popular choice for many, where home workers rush to bag one of the few available tables and seats as soon as the power goes out. Some people have reported university professors giving online lectures to students from petrol stations.

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Russian forces have directed attacks towards Ukrainian infrastructure in recent weeks, resulting in major rolling blackouts and water shortages throughout Ukraine.

A woman sits on a generator outside a shop in Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine. Picture: Getty Images
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One woman from Kyiv, Vaeriia Yas, said she continues to train at a local ice rink during blackouts, timing her sessions to when the best light is coming in through windows.

Yas says when the shopping centre where her training facility is located still has power, she can tell when it has gone off in surrounding neighbourhoods as the cafes at the side of the rink become crowded with people working on laptops.

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"We live in a very challenging time,” she says. “We have regular power outage of four to 12 hours a day, depending on the district. We have very poor internet and mobile connection.

"I experience difficulty with my working from home, because of bad internet. But we even had skating training without light. Thanks to morning time and some light from windows and the glass roof, we could see something.

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“Some cafes separately and shopping centres have their own generators, not everyone, but most of them already have. Our ice rink is located at a shopping centre, so when we see lots of people with laptops at cafes, it means that the nearest apartments are without light."

Yas says people with electric cookers are struggling to make food during blackouts, while those with a gas supply can often continue to cook. “It's a big problem to those who have an electric stove,” she says. “Without electricity you can't even prepare food and eat something hot. My usual routine for now each morning and evening is to fill thermoses with hot water to have for drink.

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“While I'm at home and we have a power outage, I have cleaning time when I have light in the daytime, but when it's evening, as in most cases, I just listen to music.”

She adds: “But we definitely overcome all these difficulties. because we strive for our freedom."

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One cafe, the Khoryv coffee company, in Kyiv, this week bought a generator and began marketing itself as a co-working space for those without power.

The business said in an advert: “So you always have somewhere to go when the lights go out at home, we bought a powerful generator. Now Khoryv becomes a small, stable island in these difficult times for all of us. Come to work, drink delicious coffee with cheesecake, and play board games any day, any time.”

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Earlier this week, European Union member states sent 500 power generators to Ukraine in response to a request last month from the Ukrainian Ministry for Foreign Affairs for energy equipment.

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