Westinghouse EMEA President: Westinghouse's history in Ukraine goes far beyond fuel supplies
Exclusive interview with President of Westinghouse Electric Company EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) Tarik Choho
Theme 1: Nuclear fuel supply
Q1: Westinghouse and Energoatom have been cooperating for 21 years out of 30 years of Ukraine's independence. Do you have a data on how many fuel assemblies at Ukrainian NPPs have already been supplied by WEC fuel?
A1: First of all, let me start by congratulating Ukraine for its recent 30th independence anniversary. Westinghouse is a partner of Ukraine in its efforts of increasing energy independence. We are very proud of our long-standing and productive strategic partnership with Energoatom and grateful for our customer’s confidence in our products and services. We are committed to continue supporting Energoatom in every area of its operations.
Westinghouse provides different types of fuel to Ukrainian nuclear plants, supporting full diversification in fuel supply to the country. To date we have delivered 1.626 fuel assemblies to Ukraine.
Westinghouse VVER-1000 fuel is already in operation in 6 (out of 15) nuclear reactors in Ukraine. These are units 1, 3, 4, and 5 of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and units 2 and 3 of South-Ukraine plant. In addition, 5 units (ZNPP units 1, 3 and 5, and SUNPP units 2 and 3) of out 6 are fully loaded by Westinghouse fuel.
Starting in 2022, Westinghouse VVER-1000 fuel will also be used in Rivne nuclear plant unit 3. And two years later, Westinghouse will supply VVER-440 fuel to unit 2 of Rivne nuclear plant.
Q2: To understand the increased level of cooperation, how many batches / assemblies does Westinghouse plan to supply to Ukrainian NPPs in 2021 and 2022?
In total we are supplying 9 fuel reloads in 2021 and 7 in 2022.
I also would like to highlight that Westinghouse history in Ukraine goes well beyond fuel supply, with our investment in Westron and contracts through the EBRD Safety Upgrade Program. Numerous safety upgrade projects implemented at Ukraine’s power units with Westinghouse’s help will not only make them safer and more reliable, but also expand their life cycles.
Q3: In June 2021, Westinghouse and Energoatom signed a contract for the development and provision of licensing documentation for the supply of fuel for VVER-440 reactors at Rivne NPP. Did the Ukrainian side take part in the development of this fuel?
We plan to cooperate with Atomenergomash (subdivision of Energoatom), pending required certification. Once the process is completed, Atomenergomash could start the production of components for fuel assemblies in Ukraine, which could potentially be used locally and also outside of Ukraine.
Q4: Loading of the first batch of VVER-440 fuel into Rivne NPP Unit 2 is expected in 2024. You can roughly schedule the process before delivery, in particular: when will the fuel licensing be completed? When will the line for the production of VVER-440 fuel in Sweden be created and launched?
The establishment of the VVER-440 fuel production line at Westinghouse facility in Västerås (Sweden) is underway and will be fully ready for first delivery in 2024. We expect also licensing by then.
Q5: Has the qualification/ certification of Atomenergomash plant been conducted?
It is progressing. As I mentioned, Westinghouse plans to cooperate with Atomenergomash to localize production of the fuel components in Ukraine.
Q6: Where is it planned to manufacture liners and heads of fuel assemblies for VVER-440?
Fuel will be manufactured in our Västerås plant in Sweden, but some components may be manufactured in Ukraine with Atomenergomash, as mentioned.
Q7: If it's not a secret, what other countries / companies/ operators is Westinghouse negotiating a possible supply of VVER-440?
We have ongoing dialogue with several operators for supply of VVER-440 fuel in Europe, including Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
Theme 2: Reactors
Q1: In the end of June 2021, Energoatom and Westinghouse discussed cooperation in the construction of new NPP units in Ukraine using AP1000 technology. Has the required working group already been established?
This is correct. It was a multistage discussion with different stakeholders involved. We are pleased to say that, as a result of this engagement, a working group was established to proceed further.
Q2: Which reactors of Ukrainian NPPs are most suitable for AP1000 in terms of equipment delivery logistics?
Wherever we build AP1000s in the world, we work with the government, and the local supply base to develop the best working relationships for a successful plant build. We are fundamentally a technology company. Even though technology is necessary, it’s not sufficient. We have integrated that technology needs to deliver a value for our customers, for the taxpayers, to the communities, and to our society. Which means there is more to this equation than just technology and science.
We’ve been successful in building and operating the AP1000 plants in China, which are breaking industry records, while just completing the construction phase of one of two AP1000 plants in Waynesboro, Georgia. All of this while investing in advanced technologies, control systems, and driving future digital innovations.
Q3: If the agreement on the construction is reached, where will the key reactor equipment be produced? Is there some kind of localization possible in Ukraine?
As I mentioned, when Westinghouse builds AP1000s, we make sure to work closely with key stakeholders, including government and the local supply base, for a successful plant build. As discussed, Westinghouse plans to cooperate with Atomenergomash to localize production of the fuel components used locally and outside of Ukraine.
Q4: Is Westinghouse ready to help Energoatom to find funding for the construction of the new rectors? As an example – DFC (OPIC) support (bonds) for the Centralized Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel (CSFSF).
There are critical cost drivers for nuclear plants. The costs and the risks around new plants are largely driven by their construction time which directly impacts the financing costs and overall LCOE. Which is why the AP1000, our Gen III+ reactor, has not only a stable design, but a highly modular and compact design. All of this in addition to its advanced passive safety features. Its footprint is also radically different: it is about a third of the footprint of any other Gen III plant.
Another key lever for reducing nuclear program costs is standardization of technology for fleet deployment and striving to harmonize global licensing standards. We need to continue to push toward having customers and regulators collectively harmonize their requirements. As you know, we have built 4 units in China which are now in operation, and by the way, operate at outstanding levels. These units are very similar configurations. As early as the 3rd unit, we could already see a very substantial double-digit cost reduction for the plants and reduction of construction and start-up schedule. That’s a real learning curve which benefits all new customers.
Q5: Is Westinghouse preparing a documentation for participating in the tender for the Czech Dukovany expansion?
Westinghouse officials are excited about the potential to bring AP1000 technology to the Czech Republic, and all countries with energy needs and goals.