The fate of Bulgaria’s Belene NPP is once more up for discussion

14 July 2016

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has indicated that construction of the Belene NPP that was to be built by Russia, may still be on the table. Bulgaria cancelled the project under Borisov's first government (2009-2013). Bulgaria's National Electricity Company (NEK) had awarded Russia’s Atomstroyexport (ASE) the contract to build two 1,000MWe reactors at Belene, one of which had already been manufactured when the Bulgarian government scrapped the project in 2012 citing problems in attracting investors.

However, in June, Bulgaria  lost an arbitration suit filed by ASE and now has to pay €550m to Russia, in return for which it will receive the equipment already manufactured. Sofia is considering selling it to a third country, and Iran has expressed interest in using it for its planned second unit at its Bushehr NPP.

Borisov told the media his cabinet was considering several options, including talks with Russian authorities, sale of the reactor to a third country or private investment to build the plant. "If none of these options is successful, then I will go to parliament and say: ‘Either we have to set aside €550m in the new budget with all the interest rates piling up daily, or we have to lift the moratorium and build [the Belene plant]’," he told Bulgarian National Radio. He expects to decide on the future of the project within a month. "I ask you to wait quietly, give me a month, and we will find a solution." Earlier he had said that he could not independently decide the fate of the project and had also sought the opinion of the European Union.

Meanwhile, Iran and Bulgaria on 11 July agreed to exchange experience in nuclear energy, Bulgaria's cabinet announced, following a meeting in Tehran between Bulgarian energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova and deputy prime minister Tomislav Donchev with Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.



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