Westinghouse-led Group Wins EU Funding to Diversify Nuclear Fuel Supply to VVER Reactors

Business » ENERGY | June 29, 2015, Monday // 15:43
Bulgaria: Westinghouse-led Group Wins EU Funding to Diversify Nuclear Fuel Supply to VVER Reactors Photo by EPA/BGNES

Westinghouse Electric Company and eight European consortium partners today announced that they have received EUR 2 million in funding from the European Union (EU) to establish the security of supply of nuclear fuel for Russian-designed reactors in the EU.

Five EU Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia) are operating a total of 18 such reactors, which are currently 100 percent dependent on supply from Russian fuel manufacturers. These reactors provide up to 52 percent of the electricity supply in the Member States concerned. The EU funding is aimed at diversifying nuclear fuel sources in the short- to medium-term, in full compliance with international nuclear safety standards, according to a media statement of the US-based company.

Nuclear energy provides 55 percent of the EU’s low-carbon electricity.

“The decision by the EU to fund this project is significant,” said Yves Brachet, Westinghouse president, Europe, Middle East and Africa Region. “It demonstrates that the EU is serious about taking measures to improve its energy security through a diversification of its nuclear fuel sources. Currently, all Russian reactors in the EU have had to rely on Russian nuclear fuel. The project will help to strengthen and secure European supply of this fuel," said Brachet.

The EU funding comes from the Euratom Research and Training Programme, which is part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation program. The project, known as ESSANUF (European Supply of Safe Nuclear Fuel), focuses on licensing alternative nuclear fuel supplies for Russian-designed pressurized water reactors (VVERs) operating in the EU.

Westinghouse will act as the coordinator for the project. Westinghouse’s consortium partners are: VUJE, ?JV ?e?, Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), NucleoCon, National Science Center Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology (NSC KIPT), Institute for Transuranium Elements of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC-ITU) and Enusa Industrias Avanzadas (ENUSA).

Each partner brings leading expertise in their chosen fields: Westinghouse (Sweden and United Kingdom), ENUSA (Spain) and NNL (United Kingdom) have considerable experience in developing, licensing and manufacturing Westinghouse VVER-440 fuel in combination with operating experience at the Loviisa Nuclear Power Plant in Finland. VUJE (Slovakia), ?JV ?e? (Czech Republic), LUT (Finland) and NSC KIPT (Ukraine) have extensive knowledge with regard to safety analysis, licensing and experience in working with the local authorities in their respective countries. The JRC-ITU (EU) and NucleoCon (Slovakia) are experts on the development and adaption of the TRANS-URANUS code which is widely used and commonly available for fault analysis during the licensing process of pressurized water reactors.

There are currently 131 nuclear power plants in the EU, over 60 percent of which are based on Westinghouse technology (US or European in design). Five Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia) operate Russian reactors (four VVER-1000 and 14 VVER-440 type reactors).

Westinghouse has previously supplied VVER-440 fuel from its fuel fabrication facility in Preston, U.K., together with ENUSA, to Loviisa (Finland) from 2001 to 2007 in annual fuel load quantities following a successful fuel design and Lead Test Assembly (LTA) program. The fuel operated flawlessly, meeting all regulatory requirements at the highest safety levels. Since 2008, all fuel for the Loviisa nuclear power plant has been supplied by Russia.

Westinghouse is a global nuclear fuel provider for pressurized water reactors (PWRs), including Russian VVER reactors, as well as boiling water reactors (BWRs) and advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs). Westinghouse provides nuclear fuel to 143 plants globally, 65 of which are in Europe, and has 10 nuclear fuel manufacturing locations around the world, including two sites in Europe: Springfields Fuels in Preston, U.K., and Westinghouse Electric Sweden in V?ster?s. Westinghouse is the largest supplier of nuclear fuel in Europe and also the only other fuel manufacturer for VVER-type reactors. In December 2014, Westinghouse and Energoatom, Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator, completed a contract extension for its VVER-1000 reactors. The fuel will be delivered from Westinghouse Electric Sweden.

Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation (TKY:6502), is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. Westinghouse supplied the world's first pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa., U.S. Today, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including more than 50 percent of those in Europe.

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Tags: Westinghouse Electric, nuclear fuel, VVER-1000, Nuclear Power Plant, EU member states, Euratom, EU funding, nuclear safety
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