Ukraine highlights role of science in nuclear sector

21 January 2019

The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine has launched a target programme for scientific research, Nuclear and Radiation Technologies for the Energy Sector and Social Needs for 2019-2023. The resolution was adopted on 16 January, following a meeting of the presidium of the institution, chaired by its president, Boris Paton.

Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences (Image: Energoatom)

At the meeting, Energoatom President Yury Nedashkovsky thanked Paton for his attention to current issues regarding the efficient and safe operation of Ukrainian nuclear power plants, including the "significant contribution" NAS has made to work on diversification of nuclear fuel supply.

"Energoatom stably supports the normal functioning of the entire energy system of Ukraine, which is especially important in the context of a shortage of fossil fuels and ageing thermal generation," Nedashkovsky said. Problems with the supply of anthracite coal to thermal power plants required the share of electricity production at nuclear power plants to be increased to more than 68.5% at times last year, he added.

"All the advantages of nuclear energy, above all its reliability, environmental safety and economic benefits, have led to the fact that the government confirmed the dominant role of nuclear energy last year. Its energy strategy provides for extending the operating periods of existing nuclear power units, increasing their nominal capacity and efficiency, completing the construction of power units at the Khmelnitsky NPP, and also selecting reactor technologies for building new nuclear power units to replace nuclear power capacities that will be decommissioned after 2030. Certainly, without the close cooperation of nuclear scientists it will be impossible to implement the tasks set out in the [government’s] strategy," he said.

In August 2017, the country's Cabinet of Ministers approved the Energy Strategy of Ukraine until 2035, according to which nuclear power will provide 50% of its electricity, renewable sources 25%, hydropower 13% and the rest will be covered by thermal electric power stations.

Nedashkovsky noted that NAS has "significant scientific and technical potential in materials science; a developed experimental and methodological base; many years of experience in scientific and technical research in atomic energy; unique personnel potential; and is able to solve various practical tasks for nuclear energy in accordance with highest international standards".

Promising areas of cooperation between NAS and Energoatom include, he said, a project to monitor changes in the metal properties of reactor vessels.

He stressed that nuclear power is one of the most cost-effective low-carbon energy sources and that the operation of the country's nuclear power units avoids the emission of 117 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. He added that the cost of nuclear power is the lowest in Ukraine compared to other power generation sources - 3.4 times cheaper than coal-fired electricity and 1.2 times cheaper than hydropower.

“Already today, the share of nuclear energy in the domestic energy balance is more than 50%. Owing to the geopolitical unpredictability of natural gas, oil and coal supplies, the stable operation of nuclear power units is the key to the state's energy, strategic and environmental security, which requires appropriate scientific and technical support," he said.

NAS is a self-governing state-funded organisation that coordinates the work of Ukraine's research institutes.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News