Representatives from Westinghouse Electric Company and Energoatom, the Ukranian state-owned nuclear utility, met in Netishyn, Ukraine, on Monday to celebrate the start of construction of unit 5 at the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant (NPP) in Western Ukraine.

The reactor will be one of Westinghouse’s signature AP1000 reactors, the first in Ukraine, where existing reactors are Soviet-era VVER models. On Monday, the representatives, along with Ukraine’s Minister of Energy and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, gathered to watch the first concrete being laid on the drainage channel.

“This is a significant step for Ukrainian energy independence,” said Bridget A Brink, the US Ambassador to Ukraine. “I would like to applaud the efforts by Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy, Westinghouse and Energoatom to prioritise and continue development of Ukraine’s nuclear energy industry despite Russia’s continuing attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. The private sector is key to Ukraine’s recovery, and America’s Westinghouse plays a leading role in ensuring Ukraine’s secure energy future.”

According to Westinghouse, the development marks a critical step in advancing commitments made by both companies under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2022 for the deployment of nine AP1000 reactors in Ukraine.

The first batch of Westinghouse VVER-1000 nuclear fuel for the two operating units at the Khmelnytskyi NPP was delivered in March. The fuel was manufactured at Westinghouse’s fuel fabrication facility in Sweden, which also delivered the first batch of VVER-440 fuel to Ukraine’s Rivne NPP in September 2023. Prior to this, VVER fuel had only been produced in Russia.

Herman Halushchenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Energy, said: “The facilities that we plan to build at the Khmelnytskyi NPP will enable Ukraine to make the largest recovery since the Second World War. I am very grateful to Westinghouse. In 2020, we signed an agreement to develop fuel for VVER-440 type reactors for five years. But after the full-scale invasion, we significantly accelerated that process and did the impossible – Westinghouse, together with Ukrainian specialists, developed that fuel twice as fast.”

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At the beginning of this year, Ukrainian officials announced plans to build at least four new nuclear power reactors by autumn to replace power capacity lost during the war with Russia.