During a recent working meeting in Istanbul, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Economic Relations and Foreign Affairs, Peter Szijjarto, and Rosatom Director General, Alexei Likhachev, discussed the current status and further steps for implementation of the Paks-II NPP project, as well as its transition to the start of construction by September. Over the past month key licences have been issued for the project by the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) including for soil stabilisation and the construction of an anti-filtration curtain (PFZ), as well on 30 June for the production of melt trap devices for the plant. Currently, construction and installation facilities are being erected on the site, as well as preparatory earthworks.
Currently, the Paks NPP, built according to the Soviet design, operates four power units with VVER-440 reactors. The Hungarian Parliament in 2009 approved the construction of two new units. The Paks II project was launched in 2014 by an inter-governmental agreement between Hungary and Russia for two VVER-1200 reactors (units 5&6) to be supplied by Rosatom. The contract was supported by a Russian state loan to finance the majority of the project. HAEA issued a site licence in 2017 and approval also came from the European Commission that the new plant's effects on competition would be acceptable. Preparatory groundwork began in 2021.
Szijjártó said on 30 June that the faster the two new reactor units are built, the more stable and secure Hungary’s energy supply will become, and the faster Hungary will be able to free itself from the “incredible disruptions” on the world energy market and the “extreme price volatility” that have been observed in recent months and are expected to continue in the coming years. The capacity expansion of Paks will also allow long-term preservation of Hungary’s utility cost reduction programme, he concluded.
The previous day, Hungary’s Technology and Industry Minister Laszlo Palkovics told a press conference that Hungary also plans to extend the lifetime of the Paks NPP and will assess costs and feasibility. The four Paks units were built between 1982 and 1987, and the 30-year operating period was extended by 20 years between 2012 and 2017, so they would have to be shut down between 2032 and 2037.
Palkovics said the plant "could have up to 20 additional years" of service and that his ministry would draft a proposal to the government by 15 July. "This will say: this is how much it will cost, this is the payoff calculation and then we should start this as fast as possible," Palkovics said, adding that there would also be talks with the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
He added that a technical, economic, legal and educational working group would be formed to prepare for the extension. He said he has asked the CEO of the plant to prepare the project start-up documentation within two weeks for submission to the government.
Image 1: Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Economic Relations and Foreign Affairs, Peter Szijjarto, and Rosatom Director, General Alexei Likhachev, discuss the current status and further steps for implementation of the Paks-II NPP project (photo courtesy of Rosatom)
Image 2: Visualisation of the Paks-II project (photo courtesy of Rosatom)