EU funding Framatome VVER-440 fuel development

21 June 2024

The EUR10 million (USD10.7 million) contribution from the European Union under the Euratom Research and Training Programme targets the "swift and secure development and deployment of a European fuel solution" for VVER reactors.

How a Framatome VVER-440 fuel assembly might look (Image: Framatome)

The SAVE project for VVER0-440 fuel led by France's Framatome brings together 17 stakeholders, including utilities which operate VVER reactors in the European Union (EU) - the Czech Republic's ČEZ, Finland's Fortum, Hungary's MVM Paks and Slovakia's Slovenské Electrárne. The aim is to boost energy security and mitigate fuel supply chain risks.

Nineteen VVER reactors - developed during the time of the Soviet Union and historically reliant on Russian fuel supplies - are currently in operation in the EU, including four VVER-1000 reactors in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, and 15 VVER-440 reactors in the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia.

Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice president of the Fuel Business Unit at Framatome, said: "Framatome welcomes this EU funding, recognising our efforts and supporting the acceleration of our development to contribute to the diversification and security of fuel supply for VVER reactors. Framatome is the only fuel supplier able to guarantee a 100% sovereign European technology, with a fully European design & product, and manufacturing facilities and a fuel component supply chain located and operated in the EU."

EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Iliana Ivanova, said: "Research and innovation are essential for the strategic autonomy of the EU. Nuclear fuel is a case in point. The Euratom Research and Training Programme is providing crucial support to our industry in the quest for reliable alternative fuel for reactors in EU Member States and Ukraine that until now needed fuel from Russia to operate."

The new SAVE (Safe and Alternative VVER European) project follows the Westinghouse-led Accelerated Program for Implementation of Secure VVER Fuel Supply (APIS) project launched in July 2023 to develop safe fuel designs for VVER-440 and next generation fuel designs for VVER-1000 reactors. Many of the EU's VVER reactors - and Ukraine's 15 reactors - have been switching from Russian nuclear fuel to the US/Canadian company's VVER fuels and the aim is to have more diversification of supply.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News