Westinghouse Electric Company announced on 29 January that it had signed a contract with Energoatom extending its supply of nuclear fuel to VVER reactors in Ukraine from 2020 to 2025. Westinghouse, which declared bankruptcy last year, is a subsidiary of Japan’s Toshiba but is in the process of being acquired by Canada-based Brookfield.
Ukraine receives most of its nuclear services and nuclear fuel from Russia, but since the change of government in 2014, which brought to power a pro-Western government, it has been reducing this dependence by buying more fuel from Westinghouse. Ukraine’s 15 nuclear units, operated by state-owned nuclear utility Energoatom, comprise 13 VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s with a total capacity of 13,835MWe.
Energoatom launched the project for the qualification of Westinghouse fuel in 2000, and in 2008 Energoatom and Westinghouse Electric Sweden signed a contract to ship fuel to three or six Ukrainian reactors in 2011-2015. However, during trial use at South Ukraine in 2012, the fuel became deformed. Ukraine subsequently suspended use of the Westinghouse fuel pending its redesign. Following the 2014 change of government, the contract was revived and extended.
The fuel to be supplied under the new contract will comprise components from both Westinghouse Fuel Manufacturing in South Carolina (USA) and a component manufacturer in Ukraine. Manufacturing and assembly work will be carried out by Westinghouse's fuel fabrication facility in Västerås, Sweden, where parts of the production lines are solely dedicated to VVER-1000 fuel, Energoatom said. Deliveries against the contract will begin in early 2021, immediately following the conclusion of the existing contract.
Energoatom said earlier that in 2018 it plans to switch South Ukraine 3 to use Westinghouse fuel only, replacing fuel produced by Russia’s Tvel. The first batch of Westinghouse fuel was also loaded at South Ukraine 2, and complete transition to the new fuel is planned in 2022. South Ukraine 1 continues to use Russian fuel. In February 2016, Energoatom supplied the first batch of Westinghouse nuclear fuel to Zaporozhye, where it is used as part of a mixed core at unit 5 and unit 3.
Photo: A new contract will see Westinghouse supply VVER fuel to Ukrainian reactors from 2020 to 2025