Paks II construction moves forward

7 September 2023

Hungary’s Paks II NPP has reached another important stage with the start of excavation of the soil under the planned unit 6 – the first step in the preparatory works for the construction of the unit, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade Péter Szijjártó.

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. The Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority issued the licence for the units in August 2022. The following December, the Hungarian parliament approved the extension of the life of the four existing VVER-440 power units at the Paks NPP for another 20 years. The current life of the station's nuclear reactors would have ended in 2032-2037, and now it is assumed that they will work until at least 2052-2057. Paks currently provides half of all generated and one third of the consumed electricity in Hungary.

In a video message on Facebook, Szijjártó noted that the excavation of the soil had started, initially to a depth of five metres, following completion of the same work at the planned unit 5. He pointed out that, at unit 5, around 1m cubic metres of soil had to be removed from the site and that 30-40 trucks were currently removing the soil, which had been excavated by the eight digging machines.

He added that at unit 6, the next phase will involve excavation to a depth of 23 metres in some areas to guarantee stability and safe operation. Meanwhile, work is continuing on the gap wall (anti-filtration protection), which is also extremely important for stability and safety, and some 700 metres have already been built. Construction of auxiliary office and production buildings is also underway. Manufacture of the reactors and associated equipment has already started in Russia.

“All this means that completion of the work by 2030 remains a realistic target,” Szijjártó said. He repeated that the expansion of the Paks NPP is an essential element of Hungary’s long-term energy security, as it will enable the country to generate around 70% of the electricity it consumes. “This way we will not be forced to rely on international markets, we will not be exposed to the sometimes crazy price fluctuations of international markets,” he noted.

“The case for the expansion of the Paks NPP has been opposed by many people … but the Hungarian national interest is clear: the share of nuclear energy in the energy mix must be increased. The obvious solution is to build two new units, that will increase our nuclear capacity from 2,000 MWe to 4,400 MWe,” he concluded.

Image: Land excavation is under way at the Paks II site (courtesy of Paks NPP)

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