A U.S. role in Ukraine's energy sector is an important part of broader efforts to break away from Russia, an envoy said. File photo by Earl S. Cryer/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Cooperation with the United States on energy security will help Ukrainian efforts to reduce its dependency on Russia, the envoy to the United States said.
Valeriy Chaly, the Ukrainian envoy to the United States, said collaborative efforts with Holtec International, which has headquarters in New Jersey, on nuclear storage objectives were "extremely important" to energy security.
Holtec in August secured approval from the Ukrainian government to start construction on a fuel storage facility at Ukraine's Chernobyl facility, which suffered a catastrophic accident in 1986. Since then, the plant's remaining reactors have been in a phased decommissioning process.
"The implementation of [the Holtec] project will dramatically reduce our dependence on Russia's interim spent nuclear fuel storing services and will save significant funds spent on these needs," the Ukrainian government stated.
By some estimates, Ukraine pays Russia about $200 million per year for nuclear-related issues.
A national energy strategy outlined by the Ukrainian government in August called for the country to get about half of its electricity needs met by nuclear power, 24 percent from hydropower and the rest from thermal-electric power stations by 2035.
Last month, U.S. Cabinet officials, the U.S. envoy to Ukraine and representatives from XCoal were on hand for the first shipment of coal from a Pennsylvania facility to Ukrainian energy company Centrenergo. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said coal sent from the United States would serve as a secure and reliable form of energy for Ukrainian consumers.
Eurocoal, an association that represents coal producers in the European region, said Ukraine has enough of its own coal to last for more than a century. Nuclear energy accounts for about half of the country's electricity generation, with coal representing about 40 percent. Most of the nation's coal reserves are found in Donetsk, an industrial city at the heart of the Ukrainian separatist movement.