The Paks nuclear plant in Hungary has joined the US Electric Power Research Institute’s nuclear research programme. The membership will enable Paks to access a wide array of EPRI research results and technical guidance that can inform the safe, reliable, cost-effective operation of its nuclear plant.

The Paks facility consists of four 500MW VVER-440 reactors. It is mainly owned by state power wholesaler Magyar Villamos Művek (MVM). EPRI says the Hungarian nuclear power sector will derive many benefits from the membership.

"The existing Paks units…will be able to tap into our diverse range of research activities related to long-term operations, ageing management, fuel reliability, waste management, radiation protection, and risk and safety," said Neil Wilmshurst, EPRI vice president and chief nuclear officer. "Just as importantly, our engagement with Paks will enable our global membership to draw lessons from Hungary’s nuclear plants that can be shared with the broader nuclear industry."

Geza Pekarik, technical support director of MVM Paks Nuclear Power Plant Ltd said the agreement represents a "major step" towards further improvement of Paks’ safety and operational reliability. "Through this collaboration, we can provide input into EPRI’s research activities and, at the same time, create opportunities for building professional contacts on an international scale," Pekarik added.

EPRI also said that the collaboration would enable it to "further expand the applicability of its technical products and guidance to VVER reactors."

In addition to the four operating units at Paks, two of which have already received approval for 20-year life extensions, in 2014, the Hungarian government signed agreements with nuclear Rosatom to build two new VVER-1200 reactors at Paks, to be brought on-line in the 2020s.