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Ukraine to start building 4 new nuclear reactors this year

Ukraine expects to start construction work on four new nuclear power reactors this summer or autumn, Energy Minister German Galushchenko told Reuters on Thursday, as the country seeks to compensate for lost energy capacity due to the war with Russia.

Two of the units – which include reactors and related equipment – will be based on Russian-made equipment that Ukraine wants to import from Bulgaria, while the other two will use Western technology from power equipment maker Westinghouse.

All four reactors will be built at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in the west of Ukraine, Galushchenko added.

The timeline is more aggressive than previously outlined by Kyiv, which has spoken of starting work in some time in 2024 and without specifying that all four reactors could be developed simultaneously.

“I think (we’ll start construction) in summer-autumn,” Galushchenko said in an interview. “We need vessels,” he added, referring to the reactor pressure vessels that will have to be imported. We want to do the third and fourth units right away.”
Construction of the 3rd and 4th reactors at Khmelnytskyi began in the 1980s but was frozen.
Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has built three new nuclear reactors – one each at Zaporizhzhia, Khmelnytskyi and Rivne nuclear power plants.

Today three nuclear power plants in Ukraine-controlled territory produce more than 55% of the country’s electricity needs, but Kyiv wants to expand the sector to help compensate for the loss of Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

Russia gained control of the facility after launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, and its six nuclear reactors are now idled.
“With the 3rd and 4th (Khmelnytkyi units) we want to compensate for Zaporizhzhia, and now we are in the talks with our Bulgarian partners on the two reactors we want to take,” Galushchenko said.

“If we received the reactor vessels today, I think it would be 2.5 years and we would have a third reactor on line,” Galushchenko said.

In parallel with the construction of the Soviet-era VVER-1000 units, Ukraine wants to start preparatory construction work to accommodate two modern Western AP-1000 units, also at Khmelnytskyi.
“We need to pass (parliamentary) legislation and we have draft laws on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th units. This is VVER-1000s, while the 5th and 6th we want to build the AP-type. This is a parallel process,” he said.
In December, Ukraine’s nuclear power firm Energoatom and Westinghouse signed an agreement on the purchase of equipment for Khmelnytskyi’s 5th power unit.
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