More power for Paks

25 May 2007

A cooperation agreement between Hungary's Paks nuclear power plant and AtomStroyExport (ASE) of Russia would see the thermal power of the station's four reactors increased by 8%. Separately, talks are underway on the possible construction of more reactors at the site.

Paks' four VVER-440 pressurized water reactors came online in the 1980s and generate almost 40% of Hungary's electricity. In November 2005 parliament endorsed a plan to extend the units' lives by 20 years to see them operate into the 2030s.

The Eur19 million ($26 million) uprate program includes modifications to reactor core control and primary circuit pressure control principles, Istvan Mittler of Paks told World Nuclear News. Changes have already been made to Paks 4, which has subsequently operated at the enhanced output level of 500 MWe without a break since September 2006. Mittler said that unit 1 would reach 500 MWe in 2008, followed by units 2 and 3 in 2009. After that, increased income from greater sales of electricity would pay for the investment in three years.

ASE would cooperate with Paks on the project, under an agreement recently signed by ASE chief Sergey Shmatko and Paks director general Josef Kovac.

In addition, officials are considering the construction of new nuclear plants in Hungary, possibly at the Paks site on the Danube river. ASE will consult on this decision-making process.

Mittler told WNN that decisions on new build are in the preparatory stage, and that no predictions could be made at present. Nevertheless, the Hungarian parliament accepts that 6000 MWe of new power generation capacity would be required by 2030, and that new nuclear plants would not be excluded from consideration.

Nuclear power is widely accepted in Hungary. Some 75% support the operation of the Paks plant.

Further information

Paks Nuclear Power Plant

WNA's Nuclear Power in Hungary information paper