In the latest example of Europe’s move away from its dependence on Russia for VVER reactor fuel, Westinghouse Electric Company on Friday signed a long-term agreement with Slovakia’s nuclear power plant operator, Slovenské Elektrárne, to license and supply VVER-440 fuel assemblies.
Slovakia’s two nuclear power facilities—the 932-MWe Bohunice and 936-MWe Mochovce plants—house two units each, all Russian-supplied VVER-440/V213 reactors. (Mochovce also has a third such reactor slated to begin commercial operation later this year, with a fourth scheduled to come on line in 2025.)
Currently, about 59 percent of the electricity produced in Slovakia is generated by its nuclear plants.
C-suite statements: “Securing another nuclear fuel supplier for our power plants is an important step in strengthening Slovakia’s energy security,” said Branislav Strýček, general director of Slovenské Elektrárne. “Nuclear power plants represent an important pillar in our country’s energy mix; therefore, I consider it to be crucial to secure nuclear fuel supply diversification for their stable operation.”
Westinghouse president of nuclear fuel Tarik Choho said that his firm is “pleased to contribute to Slovakia’s fuel diversification and to strengthen our long-standing partnership with Slovenské Elektrárne,” adding that Westinghouse offers “the only fully Western alternative fuel for this type of reactor” and that the company remains “committed to supporting Slovakia’s operating fleet, leveraging our Swedish fabrication footprint.”
In case you missed it: On May 31, France’s Framatome announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Slovenské Elektrárne “for the development of a global strategic relationship,” with one of the key elements being cooperation on a long-term solution for fuel diversification at Bohunice and Mochovce.
In its announcement, Framatome said that in the short term it is setting up its European fuel manufacturing facilities and supply chain operations “based on the proven, reliable, and efficient incumbent fuel used by the European VVER reactors.” For the midterm, the company said, it is “progressing on the development of a fully European sovereign nuclear fuel product with the support and cooperation of the European VVER utilities.”
And last month, the European Union selected a Westinghouse-led consortium to develop and deliver “a secure, fully European nuclear fuel supply” for VVER reactors in the EU and Ukraine.
At this writing, there are 18 VVER reactors operating in Europe. In addition to the Slovakian units, there are two VVER-1000s in Bulgaria, four VVER-440s and two VVER-1000s in the Czech Republic, two VVER-440s in Finland, and four VVER-440s in Hungary.