Nuclear Future for Ukraine. Ukrainian expert opinion poll
22 марта 2018

Nuclear Future for Ukraine. Ukrainian expert opinion poll

ReMark research company and Information and Analytical Center for Nuclear Energy (EUAXIS) held an expert opinion poll related to nuclear power development in Ukraine from in March 2018.

30 Ukrainian nuclear industry experts had been interviewed. The experts were proposed to answer most topical issues widely discussed both by industry experts and in the public.

Ukrainian nuclear industry trends

During the study, the experts unanimously speak about the significant role of nuclear energy in the energy system of Ukraine. Every second lamp is lit due to nuclear power stations in operation. Within 15–20 years, nuclear power share in power balance will remain as high as today. According to the experts, nuclear power industry is Ukrainian economy and industry development basis.   That is why 93% of respondents consider the further development of the country’s nuclear industry necessary.  Only 7% of respondents believe that there is no need to develop nuclear power industry: nuclear power units operated should run till their design lifetime after which they should be taken out of service.

Ukraine has entered the period when design lifetime of nuclear reactors built 25 to 30 years ago gradually runs out (15 reactors in 4 NPP are operated in the country today). Most experts see Ukraine’s nuclear power industry development in continuing works on operating nuclear power unit life extension and constructing new power units. 77% of respondents confirm that this is the most efficient way for Ukraine’s nuclear power industry development.

Only 7% of experts think that Ukraine is capable to develop its nuclear industry by its own, independently from other countries. 89% say that Ukraine does not have such ability due to a range of financial, economical and technological reasons.

Curve 1. On your opinion, can Ukraine develop its nuclear power industry independently from other countries?

Nuclear partnership

Experts denote France, US and RF as Ukraine’s potential partners in nuclear power industry (over 60% of votes).

It has been stated that selection of partners in nuclear power industry development should not be caused only by political component, but by strategic vision of the industry development direction and economic feasiblity.

Curve 2. Which countries can become Ukraine’s partners in nuclear power industry (several replies allowed)?

Ukraine’s energy security

Experts consider construction of local nuclear fuel manufacturing plant to be the main proof of the country’s energy security (59% of respondents). By 2016, Ukraine used to purchase nuclear fuel only in Russia. Today, Ukrainian BPPs’ demand is covered with fuel from RF and US.

In their comments, the experts note that Ukraine can not build nuclear fuel manufacturing plant by itself due to economic and technological reasons. In turn, foreign companies that could build such a plant have their own underloaded facilities in Europe.

 «Only US Westinghouse and Russian TVEL possess fuel technology, says Vladimir Krasnokutskii, director of Nuclear Fuel Cycle scientific and engineering complex in National Science Center «Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology» of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. – «Consecutively, Ukraine will have to strategically analyze and choose with which company to cooperate in order to acquire fuel technologies not available in Ukraine.»

According 44% of the experts interviewed, fuel supply diversification is most efficient way to energy security. That said, respondents noted a need to balance between the two suppliers, because competition is positively beneficial for Ukraine’s collaboration with its partners and excludes reliance on any of the supplier companies. For example, Ukraine had received an opportunity to require from TVEL more favorable fuel rate after Westinghouse came to Ukrainian market.

Curve 3. Which of the offers listed are beneficial for Ukraine’s energy security (two replies allowed)?

Nuclear fuel

In reply to the question about quality of the fuel used at Ukrainian nuclear power plants, 37% of experts estimated Westinghouse fuel quality as ‘generally positive’, while 22% were ‘undecided’. 70% of experts put ‘generaly positive’ mark to TVEL fuel, while 15% were undecided.

Regarding presence or absence of risks in utilizing Westinghouse fuel in Ukrainian NPP reactors, experts notice lack of available information about introduction/adaptation of this fuel in order to estimate its quality, analyze possible risks of its usage and the prospect of increasing use.

«One definitely can not give an estimation to a fuel while there is no ample information in this field, such as terms of use and contract conditions. Everything is too discrete in this field,» comments Viacheslav Potapenko, chief advisor at «New Ukraine» Strategic Research Institute, member of Green Economics Institute (UK).

Spent nuclear fuel treatment

Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) being constructed in Chernobyl area to store spent fuel from Ukrainian NPPs is called an «deferred decision» by great majority of the experts (90%). This means that Ukraine will face a problem with burying the wastes collected in CSFSF by that time. This will require construction of geologic (underground) repository.

«There cannot be two opinions. According to IAEA requirements, spent nuclear fuel should be returned to manufacturer or retained subject to all security requirements. And as fas as we know, Ukraine has not fully observed all security requirements», said Alexander Konopliov, chief of IAEA monitoring mission in Ukraine.

Experts notice that another side is a chance that CSFSF can eventually take spent nuclear fuel from other countries for storage. 70% of experts have not excluded such chance.

Sergei Brigadir, head of «Ecological Monitoring» LLC: «This storage facility construction was a wrong decision. We should ship the SNF out for recycling, and those costs should be included into fuel price and electrical power pricing. By building this facility, we take unjustified risks.»

Increasing number of NPP units shedding

Commenting on probable causes of unplanned sheddings in Ukrainian NPPs in 2017, experts distinguish following factors:

  • physical wear of equipment
  • human factor (low safety culture)
  • using fuel from different makers in a single reactor
  • consequences of maneuvering the unit beyond design basis.

The experts have particularly noticed low financing of nuclear industry that negatively impacts operating, repair quality and personnel skill level. According to the experts, underfinancing nuclear industry is the main driver for unplanned outages at our NPPs. This impairs safety, NPP operating efficiency, and repair quality. Low nuclear power pricing prevents developing the industry.

Curve 4. Which of the offers listed are beneficial for Ukraine’s energy security (two replies allowed)?

The survey has been shared by experts from such institutions:

  • Institute of Mathematical Machine Problems of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • State Scientific and Engineering Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety
  • Institute for Environmental Geochemistry of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • Institute of Energy Strategy
  • Nuclear Research Institute of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • Kyiv Polytechnic Institute
  • Kyiv Ecological and Cultural Center
  • International Union of Veterans of Nuclear Energy and Industry
  • «Power Industry and IT 21st Century» International Center
  • Municipal Energy Public Association
  • Odessa National Polytechnical University
  • IAEA Monitoring Mission Embassy in Ukraine
  • Rivne National University for Water Management and Nature Resources Use
  • Ukrainian Scientific and Research Institute for Ecological Problems (Kharkiv)
  • Ukrainian Nuclear Society
  • Energy Strategies Foundation
  • Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology
  • Razumkov Center
  • «New Ukraine» Strategic Research Institute
  • Energy Association of Ukraine

*Always mention EUAXIS Analytical Center when using this material.