Russia-supplied VVER unit now licensed to 2033
Ukraine’s nuclear regulator has said Unit 1 of the South Ukraine nuclear power station can operate safely for a further 10 years, bringing its lifetime to 50 years.
The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) said in a statement that the results of an examination of nuclear and radiation safety confirmed the possibility of further long-term operation at the plant, in southern Ukraine about 350 km south of Kyiv, to December 2033. The existing licence was scheduled to expire this December.
Petro Kotin, president of state nuclear operator Energoatom, said in a statement: “The uniqueness of this event is that, for the first time in Ukraine, all the necessary procedures and examinations to obtain the appropriate conclusion were carried out under Western standards and without a longtime shutdown of the power unit.”
The usual practice has been to shut down a nuclear power unit down for between 200 to 250 days, Kotin said. “This time, we went through all the necessary procedures to extend the life... while maintaining generation and providing electricity to our citizens.”
The 950 MW VVER unit entered commercial operation in December 1983. The original design lifetime of the three Russian reactors at South Ukraine was 30 years, with the option of 10-year extensions.
Unit 1 was given an initial 10-year extension to its operating licence in 2013.
Ukraine has 15 nuclear plants, including the six at Zaporizhzhia which have been under Russian military control since early March 2022, shortly after Russia’s invasion. According to International Atomic Energy data the fleet generated 55% of the country’s electricity in 2021.
Energoatom and US-based Westinghouse Electric recently signed a memorandum of understanding for the development and deployment of Westinghouse’s AP300 small modular reactor (SMR), with the first units potentially going online within a decade.
Ukraine, despite continuing conflict with Russia, is pursuing the carbon neutrality of its energy sector by 2050 and plans to develop nuclear generation in the form of large-scale reactors such as Westinghouse’s AP1000 and advanced SMR plants including the AP300. Nuclear is part of Kyiv’s energy strategy until 2050.