“The issues pertaining to diversification of fresh nuclear fuel supply sources, establishment of an efficient spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management system and introduction of the most up-to-date nuclear technologies are the issues of the country’s national energy security”, said Yuriy Nedashkovsky, President of Ukraine's National Nuclear Energy Generating Company “Energoatom” while addressing the Atlantic Council in the USA last week.
The construction of the Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) in cooperation with an American company Holtec International, as supported by the United States Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory, and qualification of nuclear fuel fabricated by a Japanese-American company Westinghouse were referred to by Yuriy Nedashkovskyi as the most essential projects for enhancement of Ukraine’s energy independence.
As mentioned by Energoatom President, the Nuclear Fuel Qualification Project, which he himself had been supervising for more than 16 years, was by no means easy. At all the stages, the project would stumble upon forceful counteraction on the part of the RF, while under the presidency of Yanukovych in 2012-2013 the project was essentially suspended. However, after Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity the contract with Westinghouse was not only revived but also extended to ensure 6 annual fuel reloads. “Among our key achievements as of today are satisfactory operation of the modernized Westinghouse fuel at SU NPP unit 3 and the recent loading of the first reload batch into the core of ZNPP unit 5, currently operated at nominal power”, observed Yuriy Nedashkovskyi emphasizing that today Ukraine “has a guaranteed possibility to increase, should any force-majeure occur, the scope of alternative nuclear fuel supplies and thus ensure fuel delivery to all 13 power units with VVER-1000 reactors”. He expressed his conviction that “the lessons learned from the implementation of the nuclear fuel qualification project would be a useful reference for the East-European and other counterparts who operate the Russian VVER design reactors, and who also plan to diversify nuclear fuel supply sources”.
When sharing his insights on the current development stage of the nuclear power industry in Ukraine, the Head of Energoatom observed that many years of observations and monitoring had provided eloquent evidence that radiation impact of Ukrainian NPPs was significantly below the permitted level and met the world best practices. Yu.Nedashkovskyi informed that as of the date Ukraine was implementing a new Comprehensive Integrated Safety Upgrade Program, its philosophy (just like the philosophy of NNEGC “Energoatom” in general) lying in a continuous improvement of nuclear safety with due account of operational best practices, innovative knowledge and technologies. To support the Program implementation, the EBRD/Euratom loan funds have been raised to the amount of EUR 600 mln.
“Since the very independence, the nuclear power industry has kept supporting the national economy through reliable supplies of the cheapest electricity. Today the industry needs refurbishment and further development – this time under new market conditions”, Yuriy Nedashkovskyi observed stressing that the “Strategic goal of Ukraine’s Unified Power System is integration into the European power system ENTSO-E. Among the agenda issues are reforming of the electricity market, modernization of the electric power infrastructure, implementation of the Third Energy Package, completion of units 3 and 4 of Khmelnytskyi NPP. All these purposes are seamlessly interlinked and addressed in one single project, which is one of the most promising projects in Ukraine’s power sector. It has been approved by the Government and has an apt name “Ukraine – European Union: Power Bridge”.
“In view of the specifics of the Baltic integration and the existing hybrid power system of Lithuania, the locked non-utilized energy potential of the region might be arrested by the Russian expansion for a long time. Thus, it is only immediate implementation of this project that grants Ukraine a chance of prompt and efficient development of its export energy capacity”, emphasized Yu.Nedashkovskyi.
During his presentation of the Project, Yuriy Nedashkovsky mentioned that the project involved an essential integral part, which was a long-term contract for electricity export from KhNPP unit 2 that would serve as a financial instrument to raise funds for completion of units 3 and 4 of Khmelnytskyi NPP, “being a security permitting the receipt of loan funds saving any sovereign guarantees”. The Head of Energoatom informed the members of the Atlantic Council Eurasia Center that a number of countries had declared their essential interest in participation on that large-scale project on terms of financial or technology investors.
Speaking about perspective projects, Yuriy Nedashkovsky informed the members of the USA Atlantic Council Eurasia Center that arrangements for corporatization of Energoatom had been initiated. “The plans are to establish a public joint-stock company, with 100% of stock owned by the state. We are interested in having such a legislation regulating the process of Energoatom corporatization, that would allow our western partners, including American, to be involved in the Company management”, emphasized Energoatom President Yu.Nedashkovskyi.
Information notice: The Atlantic Council is an American non-profit organization, a non-governmental think-tank engaged in finding solutions for economic and political challenges of the twenty-first century in the sphere of international relations. One of the programs implemented by the Atlantic Council of the USA is the Eurasia Center, established in 2009 to facilitate communication among regions’ leaders, key communities and international leaders. The Eurasia Center embraces countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Caspian-Black Sea region. Among the tasks of the Eurasia Center are the conduct of dedicated researches and studies and working out recommendations for governments, catalyzing local, regional and global strategies to address economic growth, dealing more effectively with political issues, and bringing about energy development and trade in ways that reinforce economic and political well-being. Early in 2014 the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center launched an initiative “Ukraine in Europe”. The aim of the initiative is to: