Construction of four new nuclear reactors in Ukraine in the pipeline

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Plans are underway for the construction of four new nuclear reactors in Ukraine starting in the summer or fall of 2024. The reactors will be built at the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant in Netishyn, Khmelnytskyi.

Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant was designed to be a four-unit nuclear reactor power plant. However, only two of its four reactors (Reactors 1 and 2) each of which can generate 1000MW of electricity are operational.

Construction of the first reactor started under the Soviet Union back in 1981 while the construction of the second reactor started two years later in 1983. The first unit was put into operation in 1987 and the second unit was expected to come online four years later in 1991.

However, a year before 1991, construction of the second reactor was stopped following the Chernobyl disaster. Reportedly, the disaster resulted in public mistrust and consequently suspension of the construction of the new facilities.

The construction of the second unit resumed in 1993 after the moratorium was lifted. It was completed in August 2004 and in September 2005 it began commercial operations.

The fate of Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plants reactor 3 and 4

The construction of the third reactor started in September 1985 while that of the fourth reactor started in June 1986. The construction works came to a halt in 1990 when the units were 75% and 28% complete, respectively.

An intergovernmental agreement was signed between Ukraine and Russia in June 2010 for the resumption of the project. In February of the following year, another agreement regarding the project was signed between Energoatom and Atomstroyexport.

Atomstroyexport is a fully owned subsidiary of Rosatom, a Russian state corporation that specializes in nuclear energy, nuclear non-energy goods and high-tech products. According to the agreement, the two units should have been commissioned in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

However, the Ukrainian government of Arseniy Yatseniuk terminated the agreement with Russia regarding the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant in September 2015. This was a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine that began back in Feb 2014.

In August 2016 another agreement was signed with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power to assist with the completion of reactors 3 and 4. However, very little progress was made.

Recent efforts to complete the construction of the remaining reactors

The recent announcement is part of the efforts being put in place to complete the construction of these units. Reportedly, two more reactors will also be constructed in a bid to compensate for the lost energy capacity due to the ongoing war with Russia. According to reports, Ukraine lost control of Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, to Russia in early 2022.

Two of the proposed reactor units and related equipment will be based on Russian technology that Ukraine aims to import from Bulgaria. The other two will utilize Western technology from Westinghouse Electric Company, the world’s leading supplier of safe, innovative nuclear technology.

Energoatom and Westinghouse signed an agreement in December 2022. As per the agreement Westinghouse will manufacture and supply AP-1000 units and related equipment for the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant starting with unit 5.

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