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Today's refusal of Ukraine from Russian nuclear fuel: Politics or economics

On March 11, NNEGC Energoatom has announced that it is completely refusing to purchase Russian nuclear fuel. The company will continue to purchase nuclear fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants from Westinghouse.

In addition, Energoatom will speed up work on creating the production of fuel magazines in Ukraine based on Westinghouse technology. This will completely replace the fuel of Russian origin.

Recall that Energoatom provides about 55% of Ukraine's electricity needs, in the autumn-winter periods this figure reaches 70%.

Until 2011, all nuclear fuel for 15 Ukrainian reactors was supplied from Russia by the company TVEL. In 2008, Ukraine headed for the diversification of fuel supplies by signing a contract with the Anglo-American Westinghouse Electric Company.

The introduction of alternative fuels was accompanied by great, including technical, difficulties. Reports about emerging problems were actively commented on in the Russian Federation, stressing their "inevitability". The point is that fuel cells are designed for a specific type of reactor.

The Ukrainian media raised the issue of the safety of American fuel for Ukrainian VVER-type reactors. This issue has been completely removed, Energoatom assured back in 2019.

However, in 2020, the agreement on purchasing Russian nuclear fuel was extended for another five years.

Recently, in value terms, fuel purchases from Russia accounted for about 52%, and from Westinghouse—48%.

"We must switch to the supply of nuclear fuel from the United States instead of fuel from Russia. We want to do this, at least in 2023, maybe earlier," the then head of the Ministry of Energy Yuriy Vitrenko stated in early February 2021.

In January of this year, Energoatom and Westinghouse launched a program to switch reactors in Ukraine from 12-month to extended 18-month fuel cycles. This will make it possible to significantly improve the utilization factor of the installed capacity of the reactors.

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