Decommissioning of Soviet-era reactors in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Lithuania has been unaffected by the financial crisis, said contributors to the International Decommissioning Support Fund managed by the EBRD.
"Lithuania's second reactor at Ignalina is going to close at the end of this year, following the closure of its first reactor in 2005, aided by an EU fund of €334 million, managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)," said Baltasar Lindauer, deputy head of the nuclear safety department at the bank. According to its records, Lithuania's total decommissioning fund amounts to €676 million.
The process to decommissioning some of the Soviet-built reactors in three new EU member states started as a mainly political process in the early 1990s, but is now coming closer to its final stages in all three nations, Lindauer said.
This will clear the way for the construction of new nuclear plants on the same sites, a process which has reached its most advanced stage at Slovakia's Bohunice site where two reactors begun in the 1980s have been completed, with work beginning last year to complete two more with Czech and French participation.
Lindauer said that the decommissioning process cannot be directly linked to the construction of the new nuclear build on the same sites, but the effort in pushing the projects forward and getting EU finance for them has been consistent and successful so far.
Confidence high for coming two years
"We work on a number of decommissioning and energy savings projects in these countries and funding has not been so far effected by the global financial crisis, as its was budgeted before it started," said Vince Novak, director of the EBRD's nuclear safety department.
"We expect new projects worth tens of millions to go ahead in 2010, but this might not be quite the case after 2013, when all post-crisis budgets will come to the table," said Novak.
According to EBRD's records, of Bohunice's current €90 million decommissioning fund, €65 million has already been spent, while of EBRD's managed €635 million fund for Ignalina, €400 million has already been spent. Bohunice's total decommissioning fund amounts to €375 million.
In Bulgaria, €324 million has been dedicated to the decommissioning of two reactors at Kozloduy, of which €127 million has already been used. The total amount of the decommissioning fund is €582 million, according to the EBRD.
To further consolidate the fuel disposal process of the first four reactors, which closed in two stages respectively in 2002 and 2006, the assembly of contributors is negotiating a further €15 million for 2010. This will assist with extending the fuel storage facility, initially planned to serve units one and two, to be used for the needs of all four closed reactors. Two other reactors continue to operate, having been upgraded to the satisfaction of the EU.
Efficiency while nuclear plans are made
Meanwhile, the Bulgarian economy and energy minister, Traicho Traikov, announced the government's plants to build a new nuclear plant in Kozloduy and is already looking for advisers for the new project.
At its last meeting, the assembly of contributors has agreed on a further €5 million energy savings grant for Bulgaria through the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support fund. The money will help mitigate the loss of the four reactors by supporting a €250 million investment in refurbishing 6000 municipality-owned buildings. Payment from the grant will go to sub-contracting companies after their work produces the expected energy savings.
"Five years ago, we could not have dreamt to achieve such energy savings in Bulgaria," Novak said. "This project alone will assist with saving the energy produced by a 5000 MWe nuclear plant and will allow municipalities to make crucial investments within their existing budgets."