More Russian reactors for Paks

15 January 2014

A nuclear cooperation agreement has been signed between Hungary and Russia, which includes the construction of two new units at Hungary's Paks nuclear power plant. Russia has said it will provide financing for the units.

Paks - new unit location 460 (Paks NPP)
The new units would be adjacent to the four existing Paks reactors (Image: Paks NPP)

The cooperation accord was signed during a meeting of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday. The document was signed by Hungary's minister for national development Zsuzsa Németh and the head of Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom Sergey Kiriyenko.

Under the agreement, Russia is to build two new reactors at the existing four-unit Paks plant, supply their fuel and train staff for their operation. It has also agreed to provide a loan for construction of the units. The first new unit is to be commissioned in 2023.

Following the signing, Kiriyenko said that work on calculating the cost of the project has just begun and the amount of the loan "has not been decided." However, he noted that a forecast had put a €10 billion ($13.6 billion) ceiling on the loan, "but the final amount will be lower."

"This is a unique agreement since 40% of all the work will be performed in Hungary," Kiriyenko noted. "This means that an estimated $3 billion will be spent to maintain jobs in Hungary and the country's budget will receive over $1 billion in tax." He added, "The commissioning of the two new units will undoubtedly enhance Hangury's energy independence and improve its security."

The cooperation agreement with Russia will now be submitted to Hungary's National Assembly for approval.

Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov was cited by RIA Novosti as saying that three documents were signed by Rusatom Overseas, state-owned Hungarian Power Companies Ltd (Magyar Villamos Művek, MVM) and the Paks plant setting out the basic conditions for the supply of the reactors and their fuel. "According to the signed documents, contracts required to transfer the active phase of the project must be drafted and signed this year," he said.

Expanding Paks

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 and will be modified further to give 500-510 MWe gross. In 2004, the parliament economic committee decided upon a 20-year life extension project for the four units. The plant currently generates almost 40% of Hungary's electricity.

The construction of new reactors at the Paks site has been proposed in order to meet future electricity demand. In March 2009, the Hungarian parliament gave its overwhelming preliminary support to a government proposal to begin the detailed preparation for the construction of new nuclear generating capacity at the Paks plant.

Paks had been expected to issue an invitation to tender in 2012, with a decision in 2013. It had been considering five PWR reactor types: Areva's EPR; the Areva-Mitsubishi Atmea1; AtomStroyExport's VVER-1000 or -1200; the Westinghouse AP1000 and Korea's APR-1400. Rosatom in June 2012 was reported as saying that it was prepared to fully fund the new units.

However, it now appears that Hungary has already selected Russia as the supplier without holding the tender, although the capacities of the new VVER units are yet to be disclosed.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News