Ukrainian NPPs Not Launched

The development of world nuclear energy started in the 1950s, when nuclear power plants were commissioned for the first time in the USSR, Great Britain and the USA. Characteristic features of this period were structural changes in the world energy balance (transition from coal to oil), relevance of the issue of fast and efficient transport of energy resources. These circumstances formed a worldwide need for additional energy sources, including nuclear, and became an incentive for the construction of new nuclear power plants and increasing the capacity of existing reactors.

Based on  fuel and energy balance analysis in the Soviet Union, which included Ukraine, and its certain regions, performed in the 1960s, it was concluded that in 10-15 years the European part, in which a significant part of the industry was located, will face the shortage of energy resources. It was decided to compensate the shortage of electricity by the development and construction of nuclear power plants, which at that time was already ongoing in a number of countries.

Nuclear energy was developed by the method of adaptation of nuclear facilities designed for military purposes for electricity generation. Soviet nuclear power plants were constructed on the basis of two reactor types: facilities with water-cooled water-moderated nuclear power reactors (VVER) and facilities with graphite channel reactors (RBMK).

However, the accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 slowed down, if not discontinued the massive construction of nuclear power plants. However, as experts say in the energy community, the more important reason to stop the construction of new power units was the unfavorable economic situation of the late 1980s. After the ChNPP accident, a decision was made to terminate the construction of almost all power units with RBMK reactors.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine got 5 operating NPPs, including Chornobyl NPP, where simultaneously three power units were operated and activities were conducted to mitigate the accident consequences at unit 4. At the same time, on the territory of Ukraine there were sites for other nuclear projects terminated at different implementation stages: Crimea NPP, Chyhyryn NPP, Odessa, Kharkiv Nuclear Thermal Power Plants (KhNTPP) and two power units of the operating Khmelnytskyi NPP.

Crimea NPP

The Crimea NPP was designed as early as 1968, and in 1975 construction started. It was expected that two power units would be constructed first, each producing 1 GW of electricity. In the future, it was planned to increase the number of power units to four.

In 1987, all activities on implementing the Crimea NPP project were terminated. Two years later, the Soviet leadership decided to finally abandon the NPP launch when it was 80 percent ready.

The power plant was supposed to provide electricity for the entire Crimean Peninsula, as well as some regions of russia. However, now seismologists say that the decision to construct a nuclear power plant in Shchelkine was wrong.

Photo: Historical Truth

For example, the Crimean Expert Council for Seismic Safety Assessment once stated that the Shchelkine NPP would be unreliable precisely because Crimea is seismically unstable. The nuclear power plant would not stand the test of time and possible earthquake. According to the regulatory maps, this area belongs to the 9 magnitude zone. However, the Crimea NPP was designed for the magnitude of 6-7.

The official reason to stop the construction was NPP site location on a tectonic fault and hazard of a man-made disaster in the event of natural disasters, such as the 1927 Crimean earthquake. Later expert reviews confirmed that the NPP site meets the regulatory documents in terms of tectonic seismic conditions. In addition, by the time the NPP construction was discontinued, the construction of the reactor building was at the initial stage, which allowed, if necessary, making adjustments to meet the higher requirements for NPP seismic resistance. Moreover, VVER-1000 reactors are designed to withstand seismic impact during a design basis earthquake with a magnitude of 7 according to the Richter scale. However, even the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which fully meets IAEA requirements, equipped with VVER-1000 reactors, was also mentioned among the hazardous ones in the documents of the second half of the 1980s due to its location in the area subject to karst phenomena and displacements.

Photo: Historical Truth

After the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula by the russian federation, the issue of supplying electricity to the peninsula became again relevant, because on 30 December 2015, Ukraine completely discontinued supplying electricity to Crimea.

In 2015, the occupiers actually considered the idea of resuming the NPP construction in Shchelkine, however, the rosenergoatom management stated that this project had no prospects, they say, constructing a new facility is more profitable than restoring an old and damaged one. Later, the information appeared in the media about dismantling of the Crimea NPP structures and their use for the construction of the notorious Crimean bridge, but it is difficult to confirm or deny this information, since the facility is located in the temporarily occupied territory. After the liberation of the Ukrainian territories, it will be possible to assess the damage caused to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by the russian federation.

In 2016, head of the occupation authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Serhii Aksienov signed an order to establish an industrial park on the NPP site. It was expected that the remaining structures would be dismantled and the area would be cleared. The occupiers announced the acceptance of applications and proposals from investors for projects to locate production, however, as you know, this business has not moved forward so far. In general, the idea to construct an industrial park in Shchelkine is not new; it was first voiced back in 2006.

By the way, the Kazantip international festival of electronic and rock music was held from 1995 to 1999 in the NPP turbine hall under slogan “Nuclear party in the reactor”.

Chyhyryn NPP

The history of the construction of a nuclear power plant near Chyhyryn dates back to the 1970s. The country needed new energy capacities, so the State Regional Power Plant (SRPP) near the Kremenchuk reservoir was designed. Several options for its construction were considered. According to the first one, its operation on coal was assumed, but calculations showed that it was expensive and unprofitable, so it was redesigned for fuel oil. Even the construction of a railway line for its transport was started.


Subsequently, it turned out that the country did not have enough fuel oil to supply the Chyhyryn SRPP, so it was decided to build a nuclear power plant with a capacity of 4000 MW.

The construction of such a powerful facility required significant human resources. In close proximity to the future NPP, the Orbita settlement was planned, in which construction workers and future power engineers would settle. However, when the facility was redesigned for NPP, this settlement got in the so-called control area, where residential premises could not be constructed. It was decided to construct a new town for power engineers not far from Chyhyryn, which later was known as Novyi Chyhyyn.

In parallel, arrangement of the industrial site with dredgers was started, a start-up boiler house was built, communication lines and concrete roads were laid. The Orbita village had all utilities, there was even a club and a department store with products, which could not be found even in Chyhyryn. However, the development of this settlement was already in doubt since, under the condition of NPP construction, settling in close proximity to the facility was too hazardous. Moreover, it was already decided that power engineers would live in Novyi Chyhyryn.


The Chornobyl NPP accident in 1986 put an end to the construction of the Chyhyryn NPP, and the project suffered the same fate as other nuclear power plants that were at the implementation stage.

Despite the NPP construction was discontinued, there were two settlements nearby that needed to be serviced, thus, already in 1991, the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine planned the construction of a steam-gas plant at the same place. However, this project also failed. After gaining the independence, Ukraine received many other urgent tasks to be addressed, the construction of a steam-gas plant was not in time.

On 5 August 2005, the Minister of Fuel and Energy of Ukraine Ivan Plachkov officially announced the possibility to resume Chyhyryn NPP construction. However, there was no construction resumption. By 2011, the territory of the boiler plant and adjacent territories were guarded by Cherkasyoblenergo, and in 2011, the guard was removed and all the premises of the boiler plant turned into mountains of concrete, only the boiler pipe remained intact.

Another statement about project revival was announced by President of Energoatom Petro Kotin during international conference “Nuclear Opportunities for the Development of the Country” held in Kyiv on 22 November 2021.

In particular, he noted that one of the promising sites for building new capacities in Ukraine is Chyhyryn, Orbita. According to him, preliminary polls showed that local residents are not against such a neighborhood. 59% of the local population have a positive attitude towards nuclear energy and 55% support the construction of a new plant in Chyhyryn.

Kharkiv NTPP

Kharkiv NTPP is the design for a nuclear thermal power plant, whose implementation was completed before its start. According to the project, it was supposed to locate it near the Birky village, which is near Kharkiv.

KhNTPP envisaged two VVER-1000 power units, which should produce electricity, as well as provide heat to a million-plus city. KhNTPP construction was planned in the Kharkiv development master plan since 1986.

The commissioning of several powerful NTPPs in the European part of the Soviet Union, including KhNTPP, was planned to replace the expensive coal delivery from Siberia for traditional TPPs. However, these plans faced many difficulties, primarily lack of material resources and poor work organization.

The construction of the main structures was not started, only the construction of infrastructure and preparation for the main activities were carried out. Soon the plant suffered the fate of many nuclear power plants of the former Soviet Union, the project was abolished and abandoned.

In the late 1970s, the Kharkiv subsidiary of the Energoproekt Institute was engaged in the development of a promising heat supply scheme for Kharkiv. According to experts, the city’s need for heat from 1980 to 1995 should have almost doubled, which required the search for a new powerful heat supply source.

To solve this issue, it was considered necessary to construct a nuclear thermal power plant near Kharkiv. Employees of the Lviv, Kyiv, Yerevan, Sverdlovsk and Gorkyi subsidiaries of the Atomelectroproekt took part in project development, but the Kharkiv subsidiary was the general designer.

Kharkiv NTPP. Industrial site perspective

It was supposed to equip the thermal power plant designed for two power units, as we mentioned above, with V-320 reactor installations with VVER-1000 water power reactors, T-1070-60 turbines and a TVV-1000-4UZ generator. The project provided plant expansion up to 4 power units. It was planned to start the construction of the Kharkiv NTPP in 1988, but after the Chornobyl accident and moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants, the project was discontinued.

Master Plan of the Kharkiv NTPP

Odessa NTPP

In the 1980s of the last century in Teplodar located 45 kilometers from Odessa, the construction of the Odessa Nuclear Thermal Power Plant (NTPP) started. It was supposed to become the most powerful in the territory of not only Ukraine, but the entire Soviet Union. It was planned to construct six power units with a capacity of 3000 MW each. The design for the first two units were already developed, the development of others was planned for the future, the foundations and lower tiers for the first units of the future NTPP were constructed.

In 1983, when NTPP construction was actively underway, geologists reasonably proved the incorrectness of the design solutions and inadmissibility of Odessa NTPP construction on the selected site. There were many unfavorable potential hazard factors at the selected site, namely, more than 20 meters of type 2 unstable forest soils, which tend to subside; karst limestones under forests; increased seismicity of the region; lack of backup water supply sources, etc. Despite this, Odessa NTPP construction was continued without an approved design until 1986, and only after the Chornobyl accident its construction was finally terminated.


This year, taking into account the development prospects of the region, which is unique in terms of the location of seaports and need to develop various agriculture areas, the management of the Odessa National Polytechnic University presented the initiative to consider the industrial site in Teplodar as a site for the construction of one of the five NPP units announced by the Ministry of Energy.

The relevant proposal was sent to the Odessa Regional State Administration and Energoatom. In response to this letter, Atomprojectengineering designers inspected the industrial site with the remains of the NTPP structures.

As noted in the Energoatom, as part of energy capacity build-up in Ukraine, among possible sites for future NPPs, the unfinished Chyhyryn NPP and Odessa NTPP are also being considered.

Khmelnytskyi NPP

Within this article, we consider it is quite fair to classify the Khmelnytskyi NPP as unfinished, because not implemented units 3 and 4 are located at the site.

The decision to construct the Khmelnytskyi NPP was taken by the USSR Ministry of Energy in 1975, and already in 1981, the construction of unit 1 started in Netishyn, Khmelnytskyi region. In 1983, NPP unit 2 started, in 1985 – unit 3, and in 1986 – unit 4.

The first two VVER-1000s were successfully commissioned: one in 1987, and the second in 2005. Due to the moratorium on the construction of new NPPs, the construction of units 3 and 4 was discontinued with unit 3 preparedness of 75%, unit 4 – 15%.

The construction remained frozen for three years, until 1993, when the parliament lifted its moratorium. In 2005, when KhNPP-2 was finally completed, the Cabinet of Ministers issued an order to continue activities at units 3 and 4.

In 2008, a competition was held at the Ministry of Fuel and Energy to select the reactor type for units 3 and 4. Russian company atomstroyexport became its winner. Cooperation with the russians was not limited to this: in 2010, the Ukrainian relevant agency entered into an agreement on cooperation with rosatom, the agreement was signed on cooperation in the nuclear energy area between the governments of Ukraine and russia. At that time, the estimated cost to complete the unfinished KhNPP units was UAH 15 billion. In 2012, a number of important decisions were made by the parliament – on the location, design and construction of KhNPP-3, 4, by the Cabinet of Ministers – on the feasibility study of the construction. It was expected that the cost estimate would be UAH 40 billion, and the total capacity of two power units would reach 2000 MW.

However, in 2015, in response to the russian aggression, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine supported denunciation of the agreement on cooperation between the Ukrainian and russian governments on nuclear energy development. By the way, as of 2021, according to various estimates, the cost of construction completion for KhNPP units is about UAH 80 billion.

The war dramatically shifted priorities in the economy. Certain projects that were transferred from one folder to another year after year are now gaining weight. This also applies to the completion of the KhNPP units. In the summer of 2022, cooperation agreements were modified between the Energoatom, American energy holding Westinghouse and operator of the Polish energy system PSE.

On 2 June, Minister of Energy of Ukraine Herman Galushchenko, Energoatom President Petro Kotin and Westinghouse Chief Executive Officer Patrick Fragman laid a symbolic stone at the construction site of two new KhNPP units. The units will be numbered as No. 5 and No. 6.

This means that Ukraine finally abandons the idea to complete the construction of KhNPP-3, 4. It is quite understandable, because units 3 and 4 are designed for russian VVER-1000, which, for known reasons, will not be installed. The proposed U.S. AR-1000 simply does not fit into the existing design.

Completion of not implemented NPP projects in Ukraine, first of all, should be based on economic feasibility and safety aspects. Taking into account the condition of facilities, the likelihood of bringing them into proper condition, which would meet up-to-date requirements, is very small. However, the possibility to consider the unfinished NPP sites for the construction of new energy facilities cannot be completely rejected under additional study of the territory, in particular, soil quality, available water resources, etc. Editorial Board