Companies eyeing coal sites and plan to have pilot plant connected to grid by 2029

Energoatom president Petro Kotin (second left) signed the agreement in Ukraine. With him are Ukraine’s energy minister German Galushchenko (third left) and Holtec International’s vice-president for Ukraine operations Riaz Awan (right). Courtesy Energoatom.

Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom and US-based Holtec International have signed an agreement for the potential deployment of up to 20 small modular reactors with the first pilot project connected to the grid by March 2029.

The agreement sees Energoatom and Holtec jointly developing a plan for the expedited construction and commissioning of up the Holtec SMR-160 plants in Ukraine and for establishing a manufacturing facility in the country for the production of equipment required to build the plants.

The two companies will establish a joint office to carry out work for licensing and deployment of SMR-160 reactor technology throughout Ukraine, with the focus on former coal generation sites.

Energoatom, which owns and operates Ukraine’s fleet of 15 commercial nuclear power plants, said on social media the agreement provides for “more profound” cooperation between the companies aimed at strengthening of energy security of Ukraine. “The agreement will contribute to the overall de-carbonisation of the Ukrainian energy sector, the strengthening of energy independence of Ukraine, and will launch high-tech production of SMR components on our territory,” the company said.

Ukraine’s energy minister German Galushchenko said the construction of small modular reactors in Ukraine would contribute to the strengthening of the country’s energy security and would also allow replacing thermal power plants destroyed by Russian attacks and the achievement of decarbonisation goals.

“We plan a complete replacement of thermal generation” Galushchenko said. “The best way to replace coal is with small modular reactors.”

Ukraine Wants To ‘Remove Russia’ From Nuclear Market

He said Ukraine has significant human potential for the development of advanced nuclear technologies and will try, in particular in cooperation with American partners, to “remove the Russian nuclear industry from the world market”.

Energoatom president Petro Kotin said the agreement will allow help Ukraine emerge as a regional hub for Holtec’s reactor technology. He said the agreement will lead to economic development, job creation, the establishment of modern manufacturing facilities, training facilities and R&D centres.

The SMR-160 is a light-water based pressurised SMR, which generates 160 MWe (525 MWth) and relies on gravity to operate the reactor and the passive safety systems.

Holtec said that unlike today’s operating plants, the SMR-160 is designed so that all the cooling water needed for safe shutdown, under even the most severe accident scenarios, is integral to the plant and securely located to prevent the reactor from overheating.

In August 2020 the SMR-160 design completed the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s three-phase pre-licensing vendor design review and is undergoing pre-licensing activities with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Holtec has also applied for a generic design assessment of the SMR-160 in the UK.

The Holtec agreement is not the first SMR agreement for Ukraine. In March Energoatom and UK-based Rolls-Royce SMR signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the deployment of SMRs.

Haluschenko said earlier this year that Ukraine was considering ambitious plans to build up to 20 SMRs to replace thermal generation units destroyed during the war with Russia.

“This is the best option to replace thermal generation,” Haluschenko was quoted as saying by Ukrainian and Russian media sources. “We will move towards the green transition on SMR technology, this is the best technology.”

Ukraine wants to build up to 20 SMR-160 nuclear plants, potentially at coal sites destroyed in the war. Courtesy Holtec.

Date: Tuesday, 25 April 2023
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