Ukraine to start construction on 4 new nuclear reactors later this year

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War-torn Ukraine says it plans to start building four new nuclear power reactors later this year to bolster its energy capacity as its conflict with Russia drags on, according to Reuters. 

All four reactors will be built at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in the west of Ukraine with construction set to get underway this summer or autumn, according to Energy Minister German Galushchenko.

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.

The Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant

The Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant is situated in Netishyn, Khmelnytskyi Region, western Ukraine.  (Volodymyr Tarasov/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

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“We need vessels,” Galushchenko said, referring to the reactor pressure vessels that will have to be imported. We want to do the third and fourth units right away.”

Ukraine currently has three nuclear power plants which churn out more than 55% of the country’s electricity needs, but the country has lost significant energy capacity due to its war with Russia.

A fourth nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, is currently under Russian occupation and poses a serious risk as Russian forces placed explosive mines near the facility last summer, according to the chief of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The mines, which Russia has said are for defensive purposes, were located in a buffer zone between the plant’s internal and external barriers and were facing away from the facility.

officlas sign nuclear energy agreement

President and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company Patrick Fragman, left, Minister of Energy of Ukraine German Galushchenko, center, and Energoatom NNEGC SE President Petro Kotin, right, attend a news conference on the signing of the agreement for the supply of an AP1000 reactor island for the Khmelnytskyi NPP power unit N5, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine on Dec. 17, 2023. (Volodymyr Tarasov/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

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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.

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

Ukraine continues to embrace nuclear energy despite the 1986 Chernobyl disaster where the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located near the city of Pripyat in the north of Ukraine, exploded, causing one of the biggest nuclear disasters in recorded history.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Aerial photo of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine

A New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is seen behind the abandoned town of Pripyat, Ukraine. Workers at the plant said Russian soldiers disturbed radioactive dust and failed to wear protective gear after taking control of the site. 

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