Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom on 10 June signed a contract with Westinghouse Electric Sweden for the development and delivery of licensing documentation for VVER-440 fuel assemblies for unit 2 of the Rovno NPP. The document was signed by Energoatom’s Energoatom’s Acting President Petro Kotin and Westinghouse Vice President and Managing Director Northern and Eastern Europe Aziz Dag. The signing ceremony, which took place at the Energy Ministry, was preceded by a working meeting at Energoatom’s main office, during which technical cooperation issues were discussed.

Minister of Energy German Galushchenko noted: “Cooperation between Ukraine and the United States in the field of nuclear energy is strategically important for us. Ukraine is interested in deepening its partnership with Westinghouse, as diversification of nuclear fuel supply is the foundation of energy security. Furthermore, cooperation with a world-class company supports the development of the domestic nuclear industry.” Energoatom Acting President Kotin echoed the same sentiments. “By concluding this contract, Energoatom continued diversification and took another step in enhancing energy security and independence of Ukraine's energy sector,” he said.

Kotin added that the contract to supply fuel for Rovno’s VVER-440 reactors was developed taking into account the existing experience of cooperation with Westinghouse on diversification of nuclear fuel supply for VVER-1000 reactors and was signed on 30 September, 2020 at the Office of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky with his personal participation. The next step before the fuel is loaded into the VVER-440 reactors is its licensing under the requirements of the legislation and regulations of Ukraine.

“We are pleased to continue supporting our customer in their fuel diversification strategy. This process is a key safety pre-condition for nuclear fuel delivery and operation. As a leading company in the nuclear industry, Westinghouse has a proven track record in supporting the nuclear licensing process for its fuel designs around the world,” said Aziz Dag.

The first experimental batch of fuel (up to 12 assemblies) manufactured by Westinghouse is planned to be loaded into the core of Rovno 2 in 2024. The total supply under the contract provides for at least 1,056 fuel assemblies. Westinghouse VVER-1000 fuel is already in operation in six nuclear reactors in Ukraine. By the end of 2021, fuel supplies are expected to increase to seven batches of refuelling annually: four batches for Zaporozhye NPP, two batches for South Ukraine NPP and one batch for Rovno NPP.

Energoatom launched a project to qualify Westinghouse fuel in 2000, and in 2008 Energoatom and Westinghouse Electric Sweden (then part of Toshiba) signed a contract to ship fuel to Ukrainian reactors in 2011-2015. During trial use at South Ukraine in 2012, the fuel became deformed causing damage to the reactor and Ukraine subsequently suspended the use of Westinghouse fuel pending its redesign. Following the 2014 change of government, the contract was revived and extended. In early 2018, Energoatom and Westinghouse Electric further extended the contract until 2025.

Image: Energoatom has signed a contract with Westinghouse for delivery of licensing documentation for VVER-440s fuel for Rovno 2 (Photo credit: Energoatom)