Amidst War, Ukraine Presses Forward with Plans for Four New Nuclear Reactors
Ukraine has bold plans to build four new nuclear reactors this year, despite the ongoing war with Russia. According to Reuters, construction on the reactors will kick off this summer or fall.
With much of its energy infrastructure damaged by fighting, Ukraine desperately needs to boost power generation. Nuclear already provides over half the country’s electricity. But losing control of the massive Zaporizhzhia plant to Russia last year was a major blow.
So Ukraine aims to compensate by adding reactors at the Khmelnytskyi plant out west. Two will be older Soviet-designed models imported from Russia and Bulgaria. The other two are modern Western reactors with equipment from Westinghouse.
Ukraine originally started constructing two VVER-1000 reactors at Khmelnytskyi back in the 1980s but never finished. Since gaining independence, they’ve managed to build three new reactors across different plants. But adding four at once is wildly ambitious, even if they can’t physically work on them all simultaneously.
Securing the reactor vessels is the toughest challenge. But Ukraine’s energy minister thinks with the Russian ones in hand, they could have the first reactor up in under three years.
They also plan to pass laws soon to enable building the two advanced Western reactors in parallel. This combined approach gives Ukraine its best shot at replacing the lost generating capacity from Zaporizhzhia.
That was the site of intense fighting last spring before Russia seized it. Miraculously, despite shelling that ignited fires, the reactors weren’t damaged. Ukraine only regained control in the summer after pushing Russian troops back.
With energy needs so dire, Kiev hopes fast-tracking Khmelnytskyi will help keep the lights and heat on. But constructing four nuclear reactors with a war raging is extremely risky. Ukraine is betting big that determination and technical know-how will overcome the obstacles.