Price named for new Kozluduy units

07 September 2010

In a consolidated effort to attract a lasting investment interest in new nuclear power, the Bulgarian government has for the first time revealed what it would be prepared to pay for two new reactors at Kozloduy. 


Kozloduy 3 and 4
Kozloduy 3 and 4
Talks have taken place between Bulgarian officials and Westinghouse during which it has emerged that Bulgaria would be prepared to invest up to $10 billion for two new reactors at Kozloduy. Other reactor vendors are also expected to be in contact with the country's planners regarding a possible major nuclear development.


While plans for the Belene site have attracted the most attention, following the Bulgarian government's efforts to replace RWE as a key investor, interest towards building at Kozluduy has been rising. Some experts consider Kozluduy a sustainable and more structured investment when compared to Belene, as it would more directly replace the capacity of the four Soviet-built reactors Bulgaria was forced to shut on condition of its EU accession in 2007.


However, in the short-term, Belene has ministerial approval to allocate new investors and develop the project, while such a legal framework for the new plants in Kozluduy is not yet on place. 


The government's attention has recently been diverted from further progress on either nuclear project by the introduction of new energy legislation, which is expected to be approved by parliament by end of this month.


The key changes are expected to include a priority boost for renewables in the country's energy mix, after the emerging renewable energy lobby won high status and the most preferential prices per megawatt-hour sold in the EU a significant share of Bulgaria's power production. Nuclear still provides about 35% of power despite the EU-motivated shutdowns.


However, the new law is expected to preserve the top place for nuclear in the country's energy mix in order to restore Bulgaria's position as a regional energy exporter, but for now the legislative and administrative framework for Bulgaria's new nuclear is still in the making.


According to an estimate of the Bulgarian company Risk Engineering, a former consultant on Belene's nuclear plant, in about five years' time the price of electricity production per MWh will increase from €40 to €80.


At the moment, the Bulgarian government has not established a fixed electricity purchase price rate, therefore the power produced by the Bulgarian new nuclear plants will be sold in the open market.


Even so, Risk Engineering's estimate claims that the cost efficiency of any future investment in Belene is worthwhile, with projected earnings over a period of 60 years of €60 billion, an assessment that potential investors in Bulgarian nuclear may need to look at again.
By Rumyana Vakarelska
for World Nuclear News