Ukraine steps up preparations for first AP1000 reactors

23 January 2023

The Cabinet of Ministers in Ukraine has given the go-ahead to begin work on project documentation for the construction of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant.

The Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant. Only units 1 and 2 (left) are completed and in operation (Image: Energoatom)

Ukraine's Minister of Energy, Herman Halushchenko, said the decision was a key moment for the country.

He said: "The Cabinet of Ministers decided that we are starting to develop technical documentation for a new type of reactors that have never been built in Ukraine. In other words, we have ended the era of the creation of nuclear energy based on Soviet technology."

According to the country's energy's ministry, the target date to complete construction and start-up of the two power units at Khmelnitsky is 2030-2032, subject to the impact of the current war. It estimates the cost of each unit at about USD5 billion. Then cabinet decision means that a technical and economic feasibility study and other project documentation can be taken forward.

Petro Kotin, president of Ukraine's nuclear power operator Energoatom, said: "Construction of АР1000 power units in Ukraine opens the way to the future of the country's nuclear energy industry. We welcome this decision of the government, with which we continue the implementation of modern technologies, strengthen our energy front and accelerate the reorientation of Ukrainian energy to Western standards."

Ukraine currently has four nuclear power plants with a total of 15 reactors. The ministry says the AP1000s have "significant advantages" in terms of safety and performance over the existing fleet.

In February 2022, Russia launched military action on Ukraine, and since the start of March its military forces have been in control of Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, which has six reactors. It remains under Russian military control on the frontline of the war.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been seeking to create a safety and protection zone around the plant, although final details have yet to be agreed. IAEA experts are now permanently stationed at all the country's nuclear plants to help safety measures as the war continues.

In June last year, Energoatom agreed to increase from five to nine the number of Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built in the country, which will include unit 5 and unit 6 at Khmelnitsky, plus a switch to supply all of the country's nuclear fuel.

Khmelnitsky is in the west of Ukraine. Its first reactor was connected to the grid in 1987, but work on three other reactors was halted in 1990. Work on the second reactor restarted and it was connected to the grid in 2004 but units 3 and 4 remain uncompleted.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News