Bulgaria: Belene NPP Vital, Cost Uncertain
If Bulgaria does not build the projected Belene NPP, it would be forced to import electricity from other countries.
This opinion was voiced by both opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergey Stanishev, and the director of Bulgarian Electricity System Operator, Ivan Yotov.
Yotov, speaking at a conference marking Bulgarian Energy Day, said that if by 2010 Bulgaria does not build Belene, it would face the necessity to import around 1104 MWh in its system. The Electricity System Operator is a subsidiary to the Bulgarian National Electricity Company, and takes charge of the planning and control of the electrical power system in the country.
At the same time, exchanges about the controversial nuclear energy projects flared in Parliament.
Speaking during the traditional Friday question time, Socialist Party leader Stanishev pointed out that Belene is a crucial opportunity for Bulgaria and voiced fierce opposition to critics of the project, having in mind recent comments by Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov.
Relinquishing Belene means relinquishing the opportunity for cleaner energy and for turning Bulgaria back into a major energy exporter in the region. Without the new NPP Bulgaria will have to import energy from Turkey, exclaimed the Socialist.
Stanishev was also critical of “unclear” arguments against the Burgas-Alexandrupolis pipeline. He stated that environmental concerns are important, but that it is not serious to voice a negative opinion before the assessment is done – as PM Borisov had done earlier.
Stanishev was scathing on the cabinet's overall energy policy, characterizing it as lacking in focus and “extremely chaotic”. He was referring to negative comments against the two energy projects on the part of Borisov that were made with no prior official decision by the cabinet.
Boyko Borisov on his part retorted by reiterating his softened stance on Belene, voiced Friday and Thursday. He said that it is in Bulgaria's interest to acquire a new NPP, but that this has to be done on the lowest price possible.
He stressed that it is Bulgarian interests that require this and that during the financial crisis a difference of several billion is crucial. He stressed that the talks with the Russian side are ongoing.
Meanwhile, speculations about the estimated price of Belene are rife. In his TV interview Friday morning, Borisov implicitly agreed with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov's estimate of an amount around BGN 7-8 B. When Borisov stirred controversy rejecting Belene last week, he quoted a much higher estimate – around BGN 26 B. Later Friday former Socialist energy minister Rumen Ovcharov shared his estimate of “less than EUR 4 B” (around BGN 8B), adding that the project's price would progressively go up with the passage of time and the hesitations of the Bulgarian government.
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