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Ukraine’s Nuclear Future: 4 New Reactors Announced for Construction

In an exclusive revelation, Ukraine’s Energy Minister, German Galushchenko, disclosed plans to commence construction on four new nuclear power reactors later this year. This strategic move is driven by the need to offset energy capacity losses resulting from the ongoing conflict with Russia. The development involves a mix of Russian-made and Western technology, with two reactors sourced from Bulgaria and two utilizing equipment from Westinghouse. This article delves into the details of Ukraine’s nuclear expansion strategy, emphasizing the urgency and complexity of the project.

Ukraine’s Nuclear Expansion Plans

Dual Sourcing Strategy

Galushchenko highlighted that the four reactors will be situated at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine. Notably, the timeline presented is more aggressive than earlier projections from Kyiv, signaling a shift towards expediting the construction process. The unique aspect of this initiative lies in the dual sourcing strategy: two reactors will incorporate Russian-made equipment from Bulgaria, while the remaining two will leverage Western technology from power equipment manufacturer Westinghouse.

Accelerated Construction Timeline

Galushchenko’s statement during the interview underscores the accelerated timeline, emphasizing a start in summer or autumn. He specifically mentioned the necessity for reactor pressure vessels, a crucial component that Ukraine plans to import. The intention is to initiate the construction of the third and fourth units simultaneously, deviating from the original plan, where construction of the 3rd and 4th reactors at Khmelnytskyi had been frozen since the 1980s.

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Addressing Energy Capacity Losses

The urgency of this nuclear expansion is underscored by the need to compensate for the loss of Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which fell under Russian control following the invasion in 2022. With Zaporizhzhia’s six nuclear reactors now idled, Ukraine aims to bridge the energy gap by rapidly advancing the construction of the 3rd and 4th reactors at Khmelnytskyi.

Future Plans and Collaborations

Talks with Bulgarian Partners

Galushchenko revealed ongoing discussions with Bulgarian partners regarding the two reactors earmarked for import. He emphasized the potential timeline for reactor installation, stating that if the reactor vessels were obtained promptly, a third reactor could be operational within 2.5 years.

Legislative Framework for Modern Units

In parallel with the construction of Soviet-era VVER-1000 units, Ukraine is actively working on legislative frameworks to accommodate two modern Western AP-1000 units at Khmelnytskyi. Galushchenko highlighted the need for parliamentary approval, stating that draft laws cover the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th units. The aim is to run a parallel process, combining VVER-1000s and AP-type reactors.

Collaborative Agreements

To facilitate the ambitious expansion, Ukraine’s nuclear power firm, Energoatom, signed an agreement with Westinghouse in December. The agreement focuses on the procurement of equipment for Khmelnytskyi’s 5th power unit, showcasing collaborative efforts to expedite the construction process.

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