Construction licence issued for Paks II

26 August 2022

Hungary's National Atomic Energy Office (OAH) has today granted a construction licence for two VVER-1200 reactors at the Paks II nuclear power plant site.

A rendering of the Paks II plant (Image: Paks II)

The Paks II project was launched in early 2014 by an intergovernmental agreement between Hungary and Russia for two VVER-1200 reactors to be supplied by Rosatom, with the contract supported by a Russian state loan to finance the majority of the project.

An application was submitted in July 2020 to construct Paks II alongside the existing Paks plant, 100 kilometres southwest of Budapest on the banks of the Danube river. Procedures allowed OAH 12 months to make its decision, with the possibility of extension by three months. That extension was triggered in July 2021, but having been unable to reach a decision within the extension, OAH said in October that it needed still more time.

OAH has now issued the licence for the construction of the two reactors at Paks II.

"Today, the Paks II NPP project is taking another leap forward," said Hungary's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó. "The construction licence confirms that the project complies with the international and Hungarian safety requirements. It is entirely feasible that Hungary will have two new power units by 2030, thus ensuring the stability of energy supply."

Rosatom noted this marks the first time a construction licence has been issued for a VVER-1200 reactor in the European Union.

"The construction licence for the new power units of the Hungarian NPP demonstrates firm belief in the Russian VVER-1200 technology, which has successfully passed the test of time and proved its safety and reliability," said Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachov. "We are confident that the Paks II NPP will guarantee Hungary's energy sovereignty for almost a century and bring European countries closer to achieving climate goals."

The Hungarian licensing process involves an array of separate licences. Project company Atomerőmű Zrt already has permits to connect Paks II to the electricity grid, and in November last year gained approval to manufacture two reactor pressure vessels for the Paks II units. Some 18 buildings are already being built on the site in preparation for construction, as well as a concrete plant and a plant for rebar assembly.

OAH issued a site licence for Paks II in March 2017 and in the same month came approval from the European Commission that the new plant's effects on competition would be acceptable, subject to certain commitments by the Hungarian government. Groundwork began last year, following receipt of a specific licence for that.

"Currently, preparations for the construction of the new nuclear power plant are underway on the construction site, with soil reinforcement, preparation for the construction of the anti-filtration curtains, and construction of the temporary works area facilities," Rosatom said.

Hungary has four nuclear units at Paks. These are Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurised water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News