Next AP1000 Nuclear Reactor Will Be Built in Ukraine

Ukraine is set to host its first Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor at state-owned Energoatom’s 2-GW Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in the western part of the country.

Under a contract signed on Nov. 22 by Patrick Fragman, president and CEO of Westinghouse, and Petro Kotin, Energoatom’s acting president, the two companies will begin engineering and procurement for “long-lead items” for the first Westinghouse AP1000 unit at the site.

The Khmelnytskyi site already hosts two reactors, but like all other nuclear power facilities in Ukraine, they are Russian-designed VVER pressurized water reactors. Construction of the Khmelnytskyi reactors—both 950-MWe VVER-1000/V320 designs—began in 1981. While Unit 1 was put into commercial operation in 1987, Unit 2’s completion was paused under a 1990 moratorium on the construction of new nuclear plants. Unit 2 was ultimately connected to the grid in 2004. Construction also began on Unit 3 and 4 in 1986, but both reactors were put on hold during the moratorium when Unit 3 and 4 were 75% and 28% complete, respectively. In November 2020, Energoatom completed preparatory work to complete Units 3 and 4.

The plant site remains the most attractive to deploy extension of nuclear power generating facilities of Ukraine,” Energoatom said. The company suggested the unit will be built on a plot of land next to the unfinished fourth power unit. “The building can be used for technical needs of construction, placing auxiliary shops, simulator, warehouses, etc. there. This solution is optimal and the most economical given that the company does not have to spend time or money to renovate the foundation of the existing KhNPP-4 site,” it said in September.

Energoatom’s recent contract with Westinghouse stems from an Aug. 31, 2021, memorandum of cooperation that outlined plans to build AP1000s at multiple sites in Ukraine under a project estimated to cost $30 billion. “Funding is provided by a loan from U.S. Eximbank. It is extremely important that 60% of the equipment can be provided by Ukrainian suppliers,” the company noted. While Energoatom had previously suggested that the “U.S. side” would supply equipment for the reactor island and safety systems, it also said it planned to spearhead the plant’s construction.

In a statement last week, Energoatom’s Kotin noted the agreement would open “a new stage” in the development of Ukraine’s nuclear energy sector. “Construction of new power units is essential for energy independence of our country,” he said. “Moreover, we are becoming the driving force that will pave the way for Europe to carbon neutrality.”

Kotin said in October that AP1000 technology was attractive because “it is a proven Gen III+ reactor design of around 1,100 MW with passive safety systems and unique features such as standardization, which will reduce construction time and cost.” He also noted the project will envisage the “use of state-of-the-art technologies of equipment modules plant production, which can significantly reduce the time and cost of [nuclear power plant] construction.”

If construction of an AP1000 unit kicks off at Khmelnytskyi, it would be Westinghouse’s seventh unit worldwide. Four reactors are already operational in China Sanmen plant in Zhejiang province and Haiyang, in Shandong province. POWER recognized the Haiyang AP1000 reactors with a 2021 Top Plant award for their demonstration of nuclear diversification, including for district heating and desalination.

Two other AP1000 reactors are under construction at the Vogtle expansion in Georgia. On Nov. 29, the U.S. Nuclear  Regulatory Commission (NRC) ramped up its oversight at Vogtle 3 after finalizing two inspection findings involving the unit’s safety-related electrical cable raceway system. That project has already endured repeated delays.

While the Georgia Public Service Commission in December 2017 approved November 2021 and November 2022 as the target in-service dates for Vogtle 3 and 4, respectively, Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power in October revised the project’s schedule, predicting Vogtle 3 may come online in the third quarter of 2022 and Unit 4 in the second quarter of 2023.   

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine).

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