EU picks Westinghouse-led project for VVER fuel supply

July 12, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

The European Union has selected a Westinghouse-led consortium to develop and deliver “a secure, fully European nuclear fuel supply” for Russian-designed VVER reactors in the EU and Ukraine, the U.S.-based firm announced last week.

Launched in January with an expected duration of 36 months, the APIS (Accelerated Program for Implementation of Secure VVER Fuel Supply) consortium is part of the EU’s Horizon Europe program for research and innovation. The EU has contributed €10 million (about $11 million) to APIS through the Euratom Work Programme 2023-25.

(As explained on the APIS website, “Apis is Latin for bee and is used as an analogy to symbolize that the project comprises a large group of hard working and friendly engineers that cooperate to secure nuclear fuel to the VVER cores that have the same hexagonal shape as honeycombs.”)

Project partners: The APIS consortium brings together 12 partners from eight countries: fuel manufacturers Westinghouse (Sweden) and Enusa (Spain); utilities ČEZ (Czech Republic), Energoatom (Ukraine), Fortum (Finland), MVM Paks Nuclear Power Plant (Hungary), and Slovenské Elektrárne (Slovakia); and fuel engineering and research organizations Joint Research Centre–European Commission (Belgium), State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (Ukraine), ÚJV Řež (Czech Republic), Uppsala University (Sweden), and VUJE (Slovakia).

Fuel destinations: Below are European countries with nuclear plants that house VVER units:

  • Bulgaria—Two VVER-1000s at Kozloduy.
  • Czech Republic—Four VVER-440s at Dukovany and two VVER-1000s at Temelin.
  • Finland—Two VVER-440s at Loviisa.
  • Hungary—Four VVER-440s at Paks.
  • Slovakia—Two VVER-440s at Bohunice and two VVER-440s at Mochovce (with a third unit scheduled to begin commercial operation later this year and a fourth under construction).
  • Ukraine—Two VVER-440s at Khmelnytskyi, two VVER-440s and two VVER-1000s at Rivne, three VVER-1000s at South Ukraine, and six VVER-1000s at Zaporizhzhia.

Official words: “The APIS project is a strong collaboration between suppliers and utilities, fostered by the EU, to mitigate the current supply chain risk and reduce dependence on VVER fuel supply from Russia,” said Tarik Choho, Westinghouse nuclear fuel president, in the company’s July 7 announcement. “Design competencies and manufacturing capabilities located in the EU offer a robust European solution to ensure energy security for these countries in the long run. Westinghouse’s fuel technology is the only available technology fully independent from Russian technology. Some countries have already embarked on this diversification path, demonstrating that alternatives exist in the VVER market. Westinghouse is deeply committed to offer, together with its partners, improved fuel designs and services with an even wider scope.”

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