Hungary repeats 2018 target date for Paks II project

18 November 2015

Hungary still expects to start construction of its Paks II nuclear power plant though it has yet to receive confirmation from the European Commission that the project meets the bloc's procurement rules. Attila Aszódi, the government commissioner responsible for Paks II, told reporters in Budapest yesterday that a site licence is expected to be issued in 2016, with a construction permit to follow in 2017.

An inter-governmental agreement signed in early 2014 would see Russian enterprises and their international sub-contractors supply two VVER-1200 reactors at Paks, as well as a loan of up to €10 billion ($10.5 billion) to finance 80% of the project. Paks currently comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurized water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987. Though originally 440 MWe gross, the units have been upgraded to give 500-510 MWe gross.

According to Reuters, Aszódi said: "Construction would start in 2018 and assuming about six years, we can get the fifth block online by the end of 2023 or the start of 2024. We expect the blocks to start commercial operation in 2025 and 2026."

European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) approved a contract between Hungary and Russia on nuclear fuel supply for the project in April. Then in September Hungary received confirmation from the European Commission that the project meets the objectives of the Euratom Treaty. That approval relates to Article 41 of the treaty - the requirement that persons and undertakings engaged in certain industrial activities communicate to the European Commission investment projects relating to new installations and also to replacements or conversions.

In September, Aszodi told World Nuclear News that two other questions are still open. One concerns the kind of procurement rules that should be applied during realisation of the project and the other is the so-called 'no state aid versus state-aid' issue. We are in daily contact with the Commission and we hope to finish those processes in the near future," he said. In addition, Hungary is working on environmental licensing for the project, which includes adhering to the processes of the Espoo Convention. Aszodi said he expected Hungary would complete the Espoo process this year.

A statement from the Hungarian prime minister's office yesterday said that throughout preparations for the Paks II project, the government had "respected all relevant and existing national, EU and international law[s]".

"Hungary has provided extensive and detailed information to the European Commission regarding every question it raised and will continue to do so in the future. Hungary's position is that both the Hungarian-Russian intergovernmental agreement signed in January 2014, and the engineering, procurement and construction contract signed in December 2015 comply with the EU regulation on public procurement procedures," it said.

"As a third party, the European Union approved the fuel supply agreement this April, and in September, Brussels notified the Government of Hungary that the Paks II investment is in line with the objectives set out in the Euratom Treaty both in terms of energy and climate policy and of energy and nuclear security."

But concerning procurement issues, the government has not yet received the "official legal stance of the European Commission", it said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News