Ukraine on Path Towards Nuclear Energy Independence
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with nuclear power engineers to discuss the future of nuclear energy in Ukraine
Photo Mikhail Palinchak
At a meeting on nuclear energy development and increasing the level of nuclear safety at the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant [NPP], Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stressed that the Ukrainian nation and state cannot allow blackmail from the Russian Federation, especially in the energy sector.
“There are many fronts in the hybrid war. One of the most important is the struggle for energy independence. The struggle for energy security is being held here and it is very important that during these years we have overcome gas blackmail from Russia,” Poroshenko emphasized.
“And again we are convinced – the guarantor of Ukraine’s energy security and economic development is without exaggeration nuclear power. The contribution and the growing role currently played by nuclear energy are crucial both for energy security and for the competitiveness of the economy,” he added.
According to Poroshenko, in 2014, the share of electricity generated by nuclear power plants was 47-48%. Currently it is at 53-54 to 58%.
“I emphasize that the past five years have become crucial for the development of the atomic generation of Ukraine. Without exaggeration, we can say that we managed to do more than during all years of independence,” Poroshenko said while also noting that all measures to increase the level and share of nuclear energy, enhance nuclear safety were carried out in full compliance with international standards.
“… only after a demonstration of political will over the past five years, due to cooperation with the American company Westinghouse, Ukraine has become the first country in the world to diversify the supply of nuclear fuel,” Poroshenko said.
The third unit of the South Ukraine NPP in 2018 became the first power unit in Ukraine which works exclusively on the nuclear fuel from Westinghouse. Currently there are now 6 out of 13 such units, which is 46% of the atomic generation of Ukraine, which has switched to the American fuel.
“And at my insistence, the process of diversification is continued. And this is without losing any indicators – neither the quality nor the cost of production. We maintain a competitive environment and diversification works exclusively for Ukraine,” Poroshenko said.
The main goal of the nuclear fuel diversification is to end the Russian monopoly on supplying fuel to Ukrainian reactors. Moving forward, Ukraine is planning on producing its own nuclear fuel.
“The next strategic step in the supply of fuel should be the provision of Ukrainian nuclear power plants with domestic fuel,” Poroshenko said.
According to him, work in this direction is already under way.
“I am convinced that this is a very ambitious, timely task. It is about creating our own nuclear fuel production plant, which is part of Energoatom. We only dreamed of this. And I want to emphasize that now it is being realized during the war,” Poroshenko said.
The production of this fuel by Energoatom is appropriate because the company is the only consumer of nuclear fuel and already produces some of its components.
Another important step towards liberation from Russian nuclear blackmail is the construction of a centralized storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.
“To date, this is a question of both security and economy. It has finally started in 2017. The construction is carried out due to the American loan, which I agreed upon during the negotiations with the President of the United States. It is $250 million. The American lending agency provides this. This was made possible due to the trust in the country’s political leadership, in the Ukrainian Government, in Energoatom. Lenders believed in the project,” Poroshenko said.
“Why was this possible? Because we agreed on the audit of Energoatom and we had nothing to hide. Vice versa. The audit was conducted and now the company has a high credit rating. That, incidentally, provides economic indicators, because there is a favorable lending rate, as well as fantastic opportunities for the future projects,” he noted.
Another factor in greater nuclear energy independence is the introduction of smaller, modular reactors. Ukraine does not yet produce such reactors; however, introducing them to the Ukrainian nuclear energy market could drive further technological development in Ukraine.
“In 2018, Energoatom signed a memorandum of cooperation with the US company Holtec International on the use of small SMR-160 modular reactors in Ukraine. The memorandum outlined the companies’ plans for the construction of small modular reactors at the Ukrainian NPPs and subsequent localization of the production of equipment for SMR-160 at the Ukrainian enterprises,” Poroshenko said.
“The implementation of such a project will mean a new level of opportunities, create tens of thousands of new high-paid jobs. And one more important position is the impetus for the rapid technological development of our state.”