Bulgaria looks to China to finance new NPP

19 April 2016

Bulgaria is seeking strategic investors from China to help expand its nuclear capacity, according to energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova. She told a parliamentary energy committee that Bulgaria is interested it the work being done by Westinghouse at its AP1000 construction projects in China. She said constructing new nuclear units "remains a priority" for Bulgaria, but the government will only commit to a new build programme if the prospective investor does not ask for state guarantees. Bulgaria has been looking for options to expand its nuclear energy capacity for some years.

Westinghouse has been in negotiations for the construction of an AP1000 nuclear unit at the Kozloduy nuclear site since 2012. The company signed a shareholder agreement with the previous Bulgarian government in August 2014, but specific financing terms and conditions were never finalised. In November 2015, Bulgaria's prime minister Boiko Borisov told local media that a Chinese company had been invited to invest in the construction of the planned seventh unit at Kozloduy, but this was never officially confirmed. There are six Russian-built reactors at Kozloduy, four of which have been permanently shut down.

Plans for Russia to build a second NPP at Belene were frozen in 2010, after the project fell victim to domestic, regional and international political manoeuvring. However, in late 2012 a petition demanding a referendum on reviving the project collected sufficient signatures to be valid and the first national referendum in modern Bulgaria was held in January 2013. Although a majority voted in favour of the project the turnout was too low and the issue was referred to parliament, which decided to suspend it. However there have been a number of initiatives to revive it.



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