US-based General Electric has expressed interest in participating as a potential supplier of equipment and engineering for the Belene NPP project in Bulgaria, Bulgarian National Radio reported on 16 January.
Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency that GE had sent a letter in December expressing formal interest in supplying turbine hall equipment for the two-unit nuclear station. To date, Bulgaria has held talks with several potential investors, including China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP). France’s Framatome has also indicated interest as well as Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.
Invitations to become strategic investors in the €10 billion ($11.3 billion) Belene project were sent to these four potential investors in November.
The future of Belene NPP will be decided by the Bulgarian National Assembly. The project, if it goes ahead, will be based on market principles without the provision of a corporate guarantee and long-term contracts from the purchase of electricity. Petkova said on 14 January that she was hopeful that the tender to pick a strategic investor for the project could be launched next month, with preparations for the process already underway.
In 2008, Bulgaria signed a contract with Rosatom for the design, construction and commissioning of two Russian VVER-1000 reactors for the Belene NPP, but the 2000MWe project was cancelled in 2012 after failing to find investors and pressure from Washington and Brussels to limit Bulgaria’s energy dependence on Russia. In June 2018, parliament ordered the government to revive the project.
In December 2016, after an international arbitration, Bulgaria paid Atomstroyexport (part of Rosatom) €601.6 million ($691.5 million) in compensation for the equipment already manufactured for Belene. The reactors and this equipment is now owned by the Bulgarian state and can become assets of the project company before, during or after the negotiations with potential strategic investors.