Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom on 2 June at the site of the Khmelnitsky NPP signed three agreements with US-based Westinghouse:
- On the supply of nuclear fuel for all Ukraine’s NPPs;
- On increasing the number of nuclear power units to be built using AP1000 technology in Ukraine; and
- On the creation of a Westinghouse Engineering and Technical Centre in Ukraine.
The agreements were signed by Energoatom President Petro Kotín, Westinghouse Electric President and CEO Patrick Fragman and Westinghouse Vice President and Managing Director Northern and Eastern Europe Aziz Dag in the presence of Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko and Sweden's Ambassador to Ukraine Tobias Thyberg.
In the wake of its decision in March to end all nuclear fuel purchases from Russia, Energoatom has agreed to increase the supply of Westinghouse nuclear fuel for all Ukrainian NPPs including those already operating and those planned. The fuel will be supplied from the Westinghouse facility in Vesteros (Sweden). At the same time, the production of assembly components will take place in Ukraine at one of Energoatom’s facilities, which is currently completing qualifications for the production of Westinghouse fuel heads and tails.
In the past Russian fuel company TVEL was and sole supplier of fuel for Ukraine’s NPPs. However, under Ukraine’s framework for the Nuclear Fuel Diversification Programme for VVER-1000 reactors, six out of 15 domestic reactors were operating on Westinghouse fuel in 2021: South-Ukraine NPP units 2 and 3 and four power units of Zaporozhye NPP. Energoatom is the operator of four nuclear plants in Ukraine (Zaporozhye, Rovno, South-Ukraine and Khmelnitsky), which comprise 15 nuclear reactors. Thirteen are VVER-1000s and two (Rovno 1&2) are VVER-440s. Rovno 3 is now also using Westinghouse fuel.
Currently Westinghouse fuel is being used only in VVER-1000 reactors. However, In September 2020, Energoatom signed a contract with Westinghouse for the supply and licensing of nuclear fuel for Rovno 1 & 2. It is planned that in 2024 the first batch of 12 Westinghouse fuel assemblies will be loaded into Rovno 2 and will undergo trial operation for 4-6 years.
According to the State Statistics Service, Ukraine in 2021 bought nuclear fuel totalling $435.6 million, including Russian-produced fuel (TVEL) for $158.7 million, as well as Swedish-produced fuel (Westinghouse) for $276.9 million.
On 31 May, Energoatom announced that it had raised a UAH1.5 billion ($51 million) loan from Ukreximbank (Kyiv) to purchase fresh nuclear fuel from Westinghouse in 2022. “The borrowed funds will make it possible to increase the purchase of American fuel and ensure the efficient operation of power units of Ukrainian nuclear power plants after the rejection of Russian nuclear fuel,” Energoatom said in a statement.
On future reactor construction, Energoatom and Westinghouse have agreed to increase the number of new units with AP1000 reactors from five to nine units. The planned Westinghouse Engineering Centre in Ukraine will engage in engineering and technological support for the construction and operation AP1000 reactors in Ukraine, as well as the future closure of Ukrainian NPP units.
Energy Minister Galushchenko said the agreements are a powerful step on the path of energy independence and a carbon-free future. They offer the potential of supplying Ukrainian electricity to European countries, which will help reduce their dependence on Russian energy. "We will modernise our park of nuclear power units that will produce clean, safe and reliable energy without any influence from Russia. In the future, Ukraine may become a key electricity supplier in Europe,” he said.
The Director General of Khmelnytsky NPP Andrei Kozyura said the station site is ready for the construction of two AP1000 units and has carried out the relevant preparatory work. In August 2021 Energoatom and Westinghouse in the presence of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed a Memorandum of Understanding for five units using AP1000 technology and the following November the first two agreements was signed on the construction of two units at the Khmelnytsky NPP. They will not be constructed at the site of the partly built units 3&4 but at a new site in the station territory.