Westinghouse signs contract for AP1000 with Bulgaria

20 June 2023

US-based Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a Front-End Engineering & Design (FEED) contract with Bulgaria’s Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild for a AP1000 reactor to be constructed at the Kozloduy NPP site. Westinghouse said work was starting to assess Bulgarian industry and existing infrastructure at the Kozloduy site for its potential to host an AP1000 reactor.

In March Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild and Westinghouse signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a joint working group to plan deployment of the AP1000 reactor in Bulgaria. The working group is evaluating regulatory, licensing and design requirements and developing a streamlined execution path in support of Bulgaria’s energy strategy, according to Westinghouse. The FEED contract is the first step in delivering the AP1000 reactor project, the company added.

Currently, Kozloduy NPP operates two Soviet-built VVER-1000 reactors (units 5&6). Bulgaria was obliged to close four older VVER-440 units as a condition for accession to the European Union, even though the units had undergone significant safety upgrades. Bulgaria's parliament in January mandated the caretaker government to begin talks with the USA on a potential agreement for the construction of two additional reactors at the Kozloduy NPP (units 7&8) using Westinghouse AP1000 technology.

Earlier, Bulgaria, which is under pressure to reduce its energy dependency on Russia, signed an agreement with France's Framatome to receive fresh nuclear fuel for unit 6 between 2025 and 2034 following a similar agreement with Westinghouse Electric in December for nuclear fuel for unit 5. Fuel is currently supplied by Russia’s TVEL. The documentation for the project and the change of fuel is still being considered in the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.

Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild is a subsidiary of Kozloduy NPP set up as a project company specifically to manage a project to build one or two new units on the Kozloduy site. The aim is to use existing infrastructure and to benefit from the improved licensing and ecological status of the site. Studies have already been carried out only for a seventh unit at Kozloduy NPP, and an environmental assessment of the project has been undertaken. For unit 8, such procedures are still in the conceptual phase.

“We are pleased to begin work to deliver the world’s most advanced, Generation III+ reactor technology to provide clean and reliable baseload energy for our customer and the people of Bulgaria,” said David Durham, Energy Systems President for Westinghouse. “We thank Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild and the Bulgarian Parliament for their confidence in our industry-leading, Nth of a kind technology. We commend Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild for their thoughtful approach to best-in-class project delivery that will ensure high localization of the work.”

Currently, the AP1000 is not licensed or operating anywhere in Europe. In the USA two AP1000 reactors are under construction at the Vogle NPP in Georgia but are significantly delayed and over budget. Two Westinghouse AP1000 units are in operation at China’s Sanmen and Haiyang NPPs, and two CAP1000 units, the Chinese version of the AP1000, are being built as the second phase of each station. The proposed construction of four CAP1000 reactors (units 1-4) at China’s Lufeng NPP was approved by the National Development & Reform Commission but has not yet received State Council approval. Westinghouse noted that three AP1000 units have recently been selected in Poland and nine others are planned in Ukraine.

Energy minister Rossen Hristov in January set out an energy strategy for 2023 to 2053 for Bulgaria, which includes plans for two new reactors at Kozloduy and two at Belene where a project to construct two VVER-1000 units has been suspended.

The Belene project in northern Bulgaria was to comprise two Russian VVER-1000 reactors, and initial site works began in 2008 when the BSP was in power. Contracts for components including large forgings and I&C systems were signed with suppliers, but the project faced financial problems and loss of political support when the BSP was voted out in 2009. The project was suspended in 2012. In 2019, the government advertised for a strategic investor for a project to build two large reactors, but said that neither funding guarantees nor long-term electricity sales contracts would be offered. Bulgaria had to pay compensation to Rosatom for the two reactors which had already been manufactured and delivered.

In January 2021 the Bulgarian government approved plans for Kozloduy 7, and held talks with Westinghouse about making maximum use of the Russian-supplied equipment already purchased for Belene. However, after lengthy and complex negotiations, the AP-1000 technology was deemed the most suitable, according to the decision published on the parliament's website.

Image: Exchange of the FEED contract between Westinghouse and Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild (courtesy of Westinghouse)

Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.