US-Ukraine partnership to help Ukraine diversify its energy sources

The 25th Anniversary of U.S. – Ukrainian Diplomatic Relations — Projects That Change Ukraine

Posted by: Department of Energy Office, Kyiv, Ukraine

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Efforts to provide Ukraine with a nuclear fuel alternative to Russia’s TVEL – which had been a monopoly provider of VVER-1000 nuclear fuel – began in 1998 with the initiation of the Ukraine Nuclear Fuel Qualification Project (UNFQP).  The U.S. launched the project in response to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma’s decision to cancel the sale of Turboatom-produced turbines for Iran’s Bushehr NPP in 1998.  The UNFQP thereby expanded the U.S.-Ukraine nonproliferation partnership to include the enhancement of energy security for Ukraine.

Westinghouse fuel assembles as stored before loading at Zaporyzhya NPP
Westinghouse fuel assembles as stored before loading at Zaporyzhya NPP

The U.S. Government, through close cooperation between the Department of Energy and Department of State, contributed more than $70 million in Freedom Support Act funding to the UNFQP to develop a robust nuclear fuel technology base in Ukraine and to diversify Ukraine’s nuclear energy supply.  Initially, the effort involved sharing technology and expertise in nuclear fuel design, reactor fuel design, and fuel and core licensing with Ukraine’s Center for Reactor Core Design in Kharkiv.  It then expanded with the competitive selection of Westinghouse to design, fabricate, and deliver six fuel lead test assemblies.  Ukraine’s nuclear regulator reviewed and approved the loading and operation of the fuel in Ukraine’s reactors, and the fuel successfully performed four cycles at Unit 3 of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant (SUNPP) from 2005-2009.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Westinghouse subsequently designed, fabricated, and delivered a reload batch with Ukraine-provided uranium, which received approvals from Ukrainian regulators and began operation in 2010.  Following a period with several challenges, Westinghouse and Energoatom agreed Westinghouse would modify its fuel for future use, and after testing at Westinghouse, the Ukrainian nuclear regulator approved the modified fuel in 2014 for expanded deployment.  Following this approval, Energoatom signed a contract in December 2014 for a significant expansion in fuel provision. Westinghouse fuel is now in use at South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant and Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. Energoatom envisions using Westinghouse fuel at six of the country’s 15 reactors by the end of 2017.

This project singlehandedly delivered an alternative fuel provider to Russia’s TVEL, which has significantly enhanced Ukraine’s energy security and in turn its self-determination.

Going Green in Ways Big and Small: U.S. Embassy Kyiv Celebrates Earth Week with a Park Cleanup and Environmental Initiatives

Posted by: Joseph Rozenshtein is Assistant Management Officer and Green Team Coordinator; Rachel Atwood Mendiola is an Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer and leads the Green Team’s outreach efforts.

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Ambassador Geoff Pyatt led U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s celebration of Earth Week 2014 by helping to clean a portion of Nivky Park
Ambassador Geoff Pyatt led U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s celebration of Earth Week 2014 by helping to clean a portion of Nivky Park

On Wednesday, April 30, Ambassador Geoff Pyatt led U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s celebration of Earth Week 2014 by helping to clean a portion of Nivky Park, located just across Igor Sikorski Street from the Embassy. The beautification project involved 25 Embassy officers, local staff, and family members working together with the Kyiv City Park Administration. We collected trash, including broken glass, bottle caps, plastic waste, and other refuse, and swept one of the major paths in the park to make it cleaner for fellow pedestrians. Nivky Park is more than 100 years old and was granted the status of a local nature reserve in 1972. There are over 90 varieties of trees in the park. The park is a long-time neighborhood favorite.

The park cleanup was organized by U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s Green Team. As Green Team members, we were glad to see so many of our colleagues and their family members join us to give back to a park and community that means so much to us, both as commuters and as good neighbors, by helping to keep the park clean, healthy, and safe. It’s also not every day that you see the Ambassador with a broom!

The cleanup is only one of the many activities the Embassy is doing to celebrate environmental responsibility.  As Secretary of State Kerry said, “This year’s Earth Day focus is cities, and the fact is, how the world’s cities respond to our climate change challenge will make a huge difference. Roughly 5.2 billion people are projected to live in the world’s urban communities by 2050. Building codes and electricity requirements, public transportation systems, and land management will help determine whether we meet this global challenge. The Department of State is committed to doing our part to help bring about greener cities around the world.” As part of the Department of State’s “Greening Diplomacy Initiative,” the Embassy has worked green practices into the very fabric of our mission. Here are just a few things we are doing:

  • We built a green Embassy, with a green roof system and indigenous landscaping with rain gardens that pre-treat storm water.
  • We installed energy efficient hand driers to reduce our paper towel use.
  • Our Building Automation System keeps our boilers turned off for longer periods of time, reducing energy and gas consumption.
  • We safely dispose thousands of fluorescent light bulbs that contain harmful mercury.
  • We have motion sensors to control lighting in the corridors, some offices, and rooms.
  • We buy paper locally, rather than shipping it from the U.S., which reduces gas consumption and pollution from transportation.
  • We care about recycling and recently visited the company where our paper, plastic, glass, and metal waste items are sorted for recycling.
  • We used distillers in all our homes to reduce bottled water usage, but as these machines are not energy efficient, we are replacing the distillers with low energy water filters, reducing our carbon footprint.
  • We also started a community garden last year. Most of us grew up in cities where access to nature was limited, and with the community garden, we can learn about growing food while teaching our children the importance of caring for the environment.

But that’s just what we do inside the Embassy. We also strive to help Ukraine and Ukrainians to improve their environment with various projects, like improving environmental legislation and clean energy regulation, saving energy, reducing CO2 emissions, and developing sustainable clean energy alternatives, among others.

To learn more, and to tell us some of the ways you work to improve your environment, check out our recent Earth Day video!

Energy Efficiency and National Security

Posted by: John Rogers, Political Fellow

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I recently spoke to a class at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv about energy efficiency and what steps the U.S. Military is taking to become more responsible stewards of our natural resources.

The 2010 U.S. National Security Strategy states: “Danger from climate change is real, urgent and severe.  The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe.”  The Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes that, as the largest user of energy in the U.S. Government, they must take steps toward achieving higher levels of efficiency, improve infrastructure resilience and foster a culture of conservation and awareness.

When it comes to achieving higher energy efficiency, the military faces a set of unique challenges given the highly dynamic and often austere operating environment that characterize a modern battlefield.  This is particularly true in military aviation where, due to the current limits of technology and extreme danger during the mission, there is often limited room to balance efficiency against flight safety concerns and mission effectiveness.  Despite these challenges, the U.S. military has taken major steps toward improving efficiency without impacting mission success.

Solar-Panel-in-AfghanistanDoD construction projects near Boston, Massachusetts include new building designs that achieve the highest levels of EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) energy efficiency certification called ENERGY STAR.   Not only are these designs 35% more efficient than traditional commercial buildings, but they release 35% less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  On U.S. Military bases across the Southwest United States, large solar array fields are becoming commonplace and, in some cases, meet over 40% of the bases’ energy needs.  Efficiency has also found its way to the battlefield, where solar panel technology adapted for tents and backpacks is a familiar sight.  These rugged and

lightweight panels eliminate the need for ground forces to carry generators and fuel miles away from traditional supply routes, and allow soldiers to move further, faster and more quietly than before.  One final area where the military is embracing energy efficiency is new technology acquisition.  From rechargeabl
Improving the resilience of energy generation, storage and transportation systems is another critical step toward achieving greater overall system efficiency.  Resilience focuses on protecting our existing facilities, minimizing the impact from disruption and, in the event of attack, shortening the recovery time while reducing impact to the mission.  Part of strengthening resilience is increasing access to alternate supplies of energy. e radio batteries to more fuel efficient and versatile aircraft, new systems that capitalize on energy efficiency are becoming “force multipliers”, or factors that dramatically increases (hence, multiply) the effectiveness of an item or group.

Green Algae used in biofuel
Green Algae used in biofuel

A major energy initiative of the 21st century is the adaptation of biofuels for DoD use.  Biofuels, which are derived from sources such as green algae and non-food cooking oil blends, are a sustainable, clean-burning alternative to fossil fuels. The U.S. Navy showcased their “green fleet” initiative during a 2012 large-scale military exercise in the Pacific called RIMPAC.  During the exercise, over 200 aircraft and numerous ships utilized biofuel.  In 2012, the U.S. Air Force finished certification to fly all manned and unmanned aircraft on biofuel blends.  While biofuels are a demonstrated alternative to fossil fuels, the U.S. continues to explore more cost-effective and sustainable options.

Recent DoD campaigns and targeted education seminars have focused on establishing a culture of energy awareness and conservation at U.S. military bases.  These energy efficiency campaigns range from local level events to DoD-wide initiatives that recognize the strategic impact of smart conservation.  At the local level, bases are better managing waste by following the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance of reduce, reuse and recycle.  This step is saving energy and money, while conserving our environment.

As U.S. President Barack Obama pointed out in his 2013 State of the Union Address, “Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.  After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to control our own energy future.  We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years.  We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good American jobs to show for it.  We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it.  And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.”   DoD steps to improve energy efficiency, increase infrastructure resilience and foster a culture of conservation and awareness are having huge impacts across military installations worldwide.  As we look to the future, for the sake of our children and future generations, the world must come together and take steps to combat climate change.

As Ukraine continues to modernize, they must consider some of the energy efficiency steps taken by the DoD.  Not only are these initiatives conserving energy while saving money, they are working toward the global campaign of becoming more responsible stewards of our natural resources.