Nuclear Politics

Ukraine / Westinghouse Signs Fuel Agreement For Entire Fleet, Announces Plans For Ambitious New-Build Expansion

By Kamen Kraev
3 June 2022

Kyiv is moving to end its nuclear energy industry’s dependence on Russia
Westinghouse Signs Fuel Agreement For Entire Fleet, Announces Plans For Ambitious New-Build Expansion
The agreements were signed on 2 June at the site of the Khmelnitski nuclear station by Energoatom chief executive Petro Kotin and his Westinghouse counterpart Patrick Fragman.
US-based Westinghouse Electric Company has signed agreements with Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear operator Energoatom for the supply of nuclear fuel for the country’s entire reactor fleet and an ambitious expansion of a planned AP1000 new-build programme.

The company said the fuel will be supplied by its manufacturing facility at Västerås in Sweden, but gave no timeframe for the project.

The agreements foresee also “continued localisation” of fuel component production in Ukraine by Energoatom subsidiary Atomenergomash, which is expected to produce top and bottom nozzles for the Westinghouse fuel assemblies.

Under earlier contracts, Westinghouse had already supplied fuel for VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor (PWR) designs for six of Ukraine’s 15 commercial nuclear units – South Ukraine-2 and -3, and Zaporizhzhia (Zaporozhye)-1, -3, -4 and -5.

Westinghouse and Energoatom signed a contract in September 2020 for the supply of VVER-440 nuclear fuel for the Rivne (Rovno) nuclear power station, which has two VVER-440 and two VVER-1000 PWR units in commercial operation.

According International Atomic Energy Agency data, Rivne-1 and -2 are the only two VVER-440 reactor units in commercial operation, while the rest of the fleet consists of VVER-1000 PWR units.

Westinghouse used to supply VVER-440 fuel for Finland’s two-unit Loviisa nuclear power station, but in 2009 ceased production. In 2014 it began examining the option of restarting its VVER-440 production capabilities.

According to earlier reports, the first experimental batch of new VVER-440 fuel assemblies was expected to be loaded into the core of Rivne-2 in 2024.

Energoatom said earlier this week it had received a $51m (€47m) loan from Ukraine’s Ukrgasbank to buy nuclear fuel from Westinghouse.

Agreement Includes Upgraded New-Build Plans

In November 2021, Westinghouse and Energoatom signed an agreement pledging the construction of five new AP1000 reactor units in Ukraine – two at the Khmelnitski site in southwestern Ukraine and another three to be distributed at the country’s other existing sites by 2035.

Westinghouse has now said the new agreement will increase the number of new-build projects from five to nine, but gave no further details.

Energoatom said on its social media channels that the two new Westinghouse units at Khmelnitski will be separate from the unfinished Khmelnitski-3 and -4 plants and will be built on a new site at the existing station.

Energoatom had said earlier that Khmelnitski-3 was to be completed with VVER-1000 technology while Khmelnitski-4 was to be an AP1000 reactor unit.

Westinghouse said building new AP1000 plants will leverage “significant” US-Ukraine industrial cooperation, including content from both countries’ supply chains.

The map shows Energoatom's planned nuclear new-build projects according to the announcements made in November 2021. It remains unclear where the additional four AP1000 units announced today will de deployed.

Ukraine Aims To End Dependence On Russia

The companies announced plans to set up a Westinghouse engineering centre in Ukraine to support the new-build programme, the present operating fleet, and future decommissioning.

“Even during this challenging time, we continue to work actively with Westinghouse, our strategic partner,” said Petro Kotin, chief executive of Energoatom, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on 24 February.

Since the start of hostilities, no announcements had been made by Westinghouse or Energoatom on the future of the AP1000 new-build programme.

However, in April, Ukraine lost control of its largest nuclear power station and largest current user of Westinghouse-made fuel, the six-unit Zaporizhzhia.

Even before the Russian invasion, Ukraine had begun a process of reducing its nuclear energy sector’s dependence on Russia.

The 2014 Russian occupation of the Crimean Peninsula and parts of the eastern Donbas region prompted Kyiv to start looking for alternative nuclear fuel supply options for its fleet. It cancelled VVER-1000 construction contracts for the unfinished Khmelnitski-3 and -4 plants, and has built national radioactive waste repositories to end a long-standing arrangement with Russia on waste storage.

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