US-Ukrainian energy partnership foresees five new reactors

01 September 2021

Ukraine and the USA have agreed to "deepen and intensify" their strategic cooperation in energy. Nuclear power leads a suite of agreements with a project to complete Khmelnitsky unit 4, followed up with four new AP1000 units at a total value of USD30 billion.

Jennifer Granholm and Herman Halushchenko sign to increase US-Ukrainian cooperation in Washington DC in the presence of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky (Image: DOE)

Agreements signed in Washington DC yesterday signalled "a new chapter of climate and energy cooperation with Ukraine," US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said. Her counterpart, the energy minister of Ukraine Herman Halushchenko, said, "We have common goals, among which the key is the decarbonisation of the energy sector and the achievement of a high level of energy security and stability in Eastern Europe."

The countries signed a joint statement on enhancing bilateral energy and climate cooperation during a visit to the USA by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. It states: "The participants intend to work to decarbonise Ukraine's economy and ensure its energy security and export potential by developing and implementing a comprehensive energy sector plan, one that provides for mutually beneficial cooperation in nuclear energy, solar and wind energy, hydrogen, energy storage, carbon capture utilisation and storage, cyber and physical security, and other supply and demand-side technologies."

New reactors

Key to achieving these joint goals will be the expansion of nuclear power in Ukraine by way of a project between US technology and reactor vendor Westinghouse and Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom. A Memorandum of Cooperation between them was signed by Patrick Fragman, Westinghouse president and CEO, and Petro Kotin, acting president of Energoatom.

As a "pilot project", Energoatom and Westinghouse envisage jointly completing the fourth reactor at the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant. This reactor started out as a VVER design reactor in 1987, but construction stalled at 28% completion and Ukraine has wanted to finish it for many years. The companies plan to complete it "using AP1000 technology" but did not explain how the two very different designs of pressurised water reactor would be combined.

Energoatom and Westinghouse also foresee four new AP1000 units being built at existing Ukrainian nuclear power plants. The total value of these and Khmelnitsky 4 is up to USD30 billion, according to their statements.

Westinghouse said the projects would "provide Energoatom and Ukraine with procurement, construction, licensing, operation, maintenance and localisation benefits." Halushchenko said, "Deepening Energoatom's partnership with Westinghouse will help strengthen our country's energy security. We will expand cooperation with the American company with a focus on energy security and independence of our state."

AP1000 units have a capacity of around 1150 MWe and five of them would take Ukraine's nuclear generation capacity from today's 13,100 MWe to 17,700 MWe. International Energy Agency figures for 2018 indicate that expansion on this scale could see nuclear providing as much as 72% of Ukraine's electricity and giving it the option to reduce the 31% it currently gets from coal or the 7% it gets from natural gas.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News