Westinghouse signs VVER fuel licensing contract

05 February 2021

A VVER-1000 fuel licensing agreement between Westinghouse Electric Company and Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant has been described as a major step forward in Bulgaria's energy supply diversification. The agreement covers the development of safety analyses for the licensing and implementation of alternative nuclear fuel for Kozloduy unit 5.

The contract was signed by Kozloduy NPP CEO Nasko Mihov and Westinghouse Sweden Managing Director Aziz Dag at a cermony attended by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (Image: Kozloduy NPP)

Tarik Choho, Westinghouse's president of EMEA Operating Plant Services, said Kozloduy had "once again" demonstrated its confidence in Westinghouse's nuclear fuel performance. "As part of Bulgaria's energy security and diversification strategy, our global capabilities allow us to offer innovative technologies and the highest level of service, for the entire life cycle of the operating fleet," he said.

The signing ceremony was attended by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who said diversification is an essential element of Bulgaria's efforts to strengthen its national security and described the construction of two further reactors - units 7 and 8 - at Kozloduy as "extremely important for Bulgaria, as our country relies on nuclear energy, which is included in the EU Green Deal".

The preparation of a detailed and comprehensive safety assessment is a Bulgarian regulatory prerequisite to obtain a permit to introduce an alternative type of fuel assembly, reactor operator Kozloduy NPP said. The development of safety analyses is one stage of a diversification programme that has been agreed with the Euratom Supply Agency, it added.

Westinghouse VVER-1000 fuel is used by six nuclear reactors in Ukraine, and a licensing process is also ongoing for its use at Temelín in the Czech Republic. Its latest generation of VVER-1000 fuel assemblies offers superior fuel economics and outstanding performance, meeting higher safety and quality standards, Westinghouse said.

Kozloduy's two VVER-1000 units generate around one-third of Bulgaria's electricity. Unit 5 began commercial operation in 1988 and unit 6 in 1993. The Bulgarian Council of Ministers last month approved plans presented by the Minister of Energy to construct a seventh unit at the site, using Russian-supplied equipment purchased for the Belene project which has been suspended since 2012. The energy ministry has held discussions with Westinghouse on the construction of such a unit at Kozloduy.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News