More Westinghouse fuel for Ukraine

29 February 2016

Ukraine's nuclear utility Energoatom spent $643.57m on fuel assemblies in 2015, according to local media reports citing the national statistics office. Of the total, nearly $610m was paid to Russia's fuel company Tvel and more than $32m to Westinghouse Electric Sweden. In 2014, Energoatom spent more than $628m with almost $589m going to Tvel and more than $39m to Westinghouse. According to Nuclear.Ru, Ukraine's energy and coal industry minister, Volodymyr Demchishin, said that 40% of Energoatom's expenditure on fuel assemblies in 2016 would go to Westinghouse.

In 2014, Kiev agreed with the US-based Westinghouse Electric Corp to buy US nuclear fuel for some of its nuclear reactors up to 2020. Currently most of the fuel for its Ukraine's NPPs is imported from Russia. In June 2015, Westinghouse received a €2m ($2.2m) grant from a European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) funding programme for a Euratom project to establish security of supply of nuclear fuel for Russian-designed reactors in the EU.

Earlier use of Westinghouse fuel in Soviet design reactors was not successful, causing problems at Temelin NPP in the Czech Republic and at South Ukraine NPP in Ukraine in 2009. Since then, Westinghouse has redesigned the fuel and it is being retested at South Ukraine NPP where the cores of two units have already been partially loaded with the fuel as part of a plan to diversify Ukrainian imports away from Russia.

The first batch of nuclear fuel from Westinghouse destined for Ukraine's Zaporizhia NPP was delivered on 22 February. The fuel is expected to be loaded into unit 5 at Zaporizhia in May, after the plant has received a permit from the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate. The first, third and fourth units will follow if the pilot load is successful. Use of the new fuel assumes "certain changes of the reactor systems", the plant notes. These include modification of the in-core monitoring system, which "is aimed at ensuring in-service inspection of fuel assemblies."

Energoatom and Westinghouse signed a contract for the extension of Ukraine's use of its TVS-WR fuel assemblies to the Zaporozhe plant in November last year. The agreement concerns testing of Westinghouse software at the plant. The software - BEACON (Best Estimate Analysis of Core Operations - Nuclear) - is a core monitoring and operational support package developed by Westinghouse for use at pressurised water reactors. In September last year, Energoatom said it had awarded a €339,990 ($369,000) contract to Westinghouse Electric Sweden, to supply four fuel assembly simulators for the Zaporozhe plant.



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