Hungary's Paks II project receives construction approval

23 November 2020

The Hungarian Energy and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (MEKH) has approved Atomerőmű Zrt's plan to construct two VVER-1200 reactors at the existing Paks nuclear power plant site. A construction licence for the Paks II project is required from the nuclear regulator, the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA), before building work can start.

An artist's impression of the two VVER-1200 units adjacent to the existing Paks plant (Image: Paks II Ltd)

Atomerőmű Zrt submitted an application for a construction permit to MEKH last month.

After examining the contents of the application to ensure that it complies with the relevant legislation, MEKH on 20 November announced its decision to issue a construction permit for the Paks II plant. MEKH said in making its decision it had taken into consideration security of supply to the electricity network. It noted that procedures related to the safety of nuclear technology are conducted by the HAEA.

The last construction permit for an investment in a new power plant bigger than 50 MWe was issued by MEKH in 2007, the regulator said.

Paks II Limited submitted a construction licence application for the Paks II project to HAEA on 30 June this year. The regulator has 12 months in which to make a decision on the application, but this period can be extended by three months if required.

The existing Paks plant, which is 100 km south of Budapest, comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurised water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987. Russia and Hungary signed an inter-governmental agreement in early 2014 for Russian enterprises and their international sub-contractors to supply two VVER-1200 reactors at Paks, including a Russian state loan of up to EUR10.0 billion (USD11.2 billion) to finance 80% of the project, which is known as Paks II.

In 2014, HAEA issued the site investigation and evaluation licence, and in 2017 the site licence. Under Hungary's nuclear laws, building permit applications for certain site preparation activities can be submitted no earlier than three months after the submission of the construction licence application. These permits cover activities including ground works, excavation of the foundation pit, slurry wall construction, as well as the manufacture of long lead items, such as the reactor pressure vessel.

Groundworks at Paks II can therefore start in early 2021, after obtaining a licence for pre-construction site preparation. The project company is expected to receive the licence for the construction of the main building in September 2021, after which construction work may begin.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News