30 Jan (NucNet): US-based Westinghouse Electric Company is working to restore its capacity to manufacture nuclear fuel for VVER-440 pressurised water reactor designs, according to the company’s chief executive officer Jose Emeterio Gutierrez.
In an interview for the official journal of Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear generating company Energoatom, Mr Gutierrez said restoring the manufacturing capacity would allow Westinghouse to supply fuel for Ukraine’s Rovno nuclear power station, subject to signing a commercial agreement with the operator Energoatom.
Two of Rovno’s four units are of the Soviet era VVER-440 design. These are the only two units of this design in Ukraine’s fleet of 15 commercially operational units. All the rest are Soviet era VVER-1000 PWRs.
According to Mr Gutierrez, Westinghouse is working with Energoatom to begin supplying fuel for Rovno-3, a VVER-1000, in 2021.
This would bring the number of Ukrainian reactors supplied with Westinghouse fuel to seven.
In March 2018, Westinghouse and eight European consortium partners from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Spain and Ukraine, completed an EU-funded project to help diversify the nuclear fuel supply for VVER-440 reactors in Europe.
The company said at the time that the consortium had developed a conceptual fuel design and determined how the manufacturing and supply chain could be re-established to build and ship VVER-440 fuel assemblies.
According to Westinghouse, five EU member states – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia – are operating a total of 18 VVER units, which are 100% dependent on supply from Russian fuel manufacturers.
Westinghouse has been leading the project, known as European Supply of Safe Nuclear Fuel (Essanuf), since September 2015.
Ukraine previously sourced much of its fuel from Russia, but in 2014 extended its fuel contracts with Westinghouse as part of a long-term effort working with the US to reduce fuel dependency on Russia.