EU Selected A Consortium To Secure VVER Fuel Supply in Europe
A consortium led by Westinghouse (ENS Corporate Member) was selected by the European Union (EU) to develop and deliver a secure nuclear fuel supply to Russian-designed pressurized water reactors VVER, operating in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.
The APIS project (Accelerated Program for Implementation of Secure VVER fuel Supply) is part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme for research and innovation, with a contribution of €10 million from the Euratom Work Programme 2023-2025.
The consortium includes utilities, fuel manufacturers, research centres and institutions. Among them, there are two more ENS Corporate Members, MVM Paks Nuclear Power Plant (Hungary) and ENUSA (Spain), then CEZ (Czech Republic), Energoatom (Ukraine), Fortum (Finland), Slovenske Elektrarne (Slovakia), JRC-Joint Research Centre (European Commission), the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety of Ukraine; UJV REZ (Czech Republic), the Uppsala University (Sweden) and VUJE (Slovakia).
The APIS consortium wants so to create strong cooperation between countries with experience in the adaptation of fuel types and countries just starting their journey toward nuclear fuel diversification.
The APIS project is structured into eleven work-packages with different focuses, including:
- completion of the VVER-440 fuel design for short term delivery
- development of improved and advanced VVER-440 and VVER-1000 fuel designs
- standardization of the fuel licensing
- complete the re-instatement of fuel manufacturing capabilities
- improved modeling and methods
- analysis of fuel related plant lifetime extension
- communication and project management
The importance of the diversification of nuclear fuel suppliers has been often underlined by the Euratom Supply Agency (ENS Member) which reminded us that diversification is paramount to prevent excessive dependence of EU users on any single third-country supplier and to achieve security of supply of nuclear fuels in the medium and long term.
According to ESA, around 10% of EU gross nuclear electricity capacity is fully dependent on supply of Russian fuel. These concern operators in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia and one operator (out of two) in Finland.
While an alternative fuel design for Russian-made VVER-1000 reactors already exists and is employed (e.g. in Ukraine, Czech Republic, Bulgaria), the VVER-440 reactors are fully dependent on Russian fuel assemblies at the moment. The concerned utilities have fresh fuel in their stock and could operate for 1-2 years.
ENS, together with Euratom Supply Agency, focused on nuclear fuel supply chains and production in Europe in the article “Eastern Europe And The Future Of Nuclear Fuel Supply” and in the interview with Euratom Supply Agency Director General, Agnieszka Kazmierczak.