Ukraine to begin building 4 new nuclear reactors this year
Ukraine plans to start building four new nuclear power reactors as early as this summer or autumn, Energy Minister German Galushchenko told Reuters on Thursday. This initiative aims to offset the energy capacity lost due to the ongoing war with Russia.
Galushchenko explained that two of the reactors, including related equipment, will incorporate Russian-made equipment Ukraine intends to import from Bulgaria. The other two reactors will employ Western technology from power equipment manufacturer Westinghouse.
All four reactors are slated for construction at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine. This schedule marks an acceleration from previous plans outlined by Kyiv, which had indicated a 2024 start without confirming the simultaneous development of all four reactors. "I think we'll start construction in summer-autumn," said Galushchenko. "We need vessels," he added, referring to the necessity of importing reactor pressure vessels. "We plan to proceed with the third and fourth units right away."
The construction of Khmelnytskyi's 3rd and 4th reactors began in the 1980s but was subsequently halted. Since Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has constructed three new nuclear reactors at the Zaporizhzhia, Khmelnytskyi, and Rivne nuclear power plants.
Currently, three nuclear power plants in Ukraine-controlled territory generate over 55% of the nation's electricity. However, Kyiv seeks to expand nuclear capacity, especially in light of losing the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe's largest nuclear facility, which Russia seized following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. The plant's six reactors are now offline.
"We aim to compensate for Zaporizhzhia with the 3rd and 4th Khmelnytskyi units. We are negotiating with our Bulgarian partners for the two reactors," Galushchenko stated. "If we received the reactor vessels today, it would take approximately 2.5 years to bring the third reactor online."
Alongside constructing the Soviet-era VVER-1000 units, Ukraine plans to begin preparatory construction work for two modern Western AP-1000 units at Khmelnytskyi. "We need to pass legislation, and we have draft laws for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th units. The VVER-1000s are for the 3rd and 4th, while we intend to build the AP-type for the 5th and 6th. This process will occur in parallel," he explained.
In December, Ukraine's nuclear power firm Energoatom and Westinghouse signed an agreement to purchase equipment for the 5th power unit at Khmelnytskyi.