Preparatory work to begin at Paks II

8 June 2023

Hungary's Foreign Affairs & Foreign Economic Relations Minister, Peter Szijjártó, says preparatory works would start at the Paks II NPP project in July. “The European Commission has approved amendments to the contract for the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant,” he said on his Facebook page. “Last week, Finance Minister Mihai Varga signed financial amendments to the contract from the Hungarian side, while Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is expected to sign them this week. This will remove all obstacles to continue the project with less bureaucracy, at a faster pace and in full compliance with all nuclear safety rules.”

This came after talks with Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev, who also had a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. "Both Rosatom and we, the government, are committed that the new Paks nuclear power plant units should be in operation by the very beginning of the next decade," Szijjártó said.

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. In 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.

Szijjártó told Index that Hungary's sovereignty was under attack because of Paks. “I think that in the shadow of the war everyone can now see that the security of a country's energy supply is a matter of national security and sovereignty. So, if someone tries to disable a country from the point of view of not being able to produce a significant part of the energy it uses itself, then the sovereignty of that country is under attack.”

He stressed the importance of Paks. "Nuclear energy is where we can produce a large amount of energy and electricity with a one-time investment. That is also why it is important that the two new blocks of the Paks power plant are built, because then we can increase Hungary's electricity production capacity from 2,000 MWe to 4,400 Mwe, that is more than double."

Image: Rosatom Director General, Alexei Likhachev (left); Hungary's Foreign Affairs & Foreign Economic Relations Minister, Peter Szijjártó (centre left); and Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán (right) discuss the Paks II NPP (courtesy of MTI/Prime Minister's Press Office / Zoltán Fischer)

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