Bulgarian Govt Mulls 'Reshuffle' of Nuclear Power Plants in Belene, Kozloduy
Bulgaria could use the equipment already ordered for its intended second nuclear power plant in Belene in order to build a new, seventh reactor in its only operational NPP in Kozloduy.
This idea was put forth by Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism Traicho Traikov on Monday but with scarce details.
"It is worth considering an option in which the equipment already produced for the Belene NPP will be installed in the Kozloduy NPP. Thus, instead of building two reactors in Belene, we can first construct a new nuclear reactor in Kozloduy," Traikov said in Sofia at a ceremony for awarding Finnish company Amer Sports a Class A investor status.
He mentioned that thus the Kozloduy NPP will become "fully Russian" – i.e. with Russian technologies, which Bulgaria can then "seek another solution" for the Belene NPP.
Traikov refused to provide more details about his curious nuclear reshuffle idea, and did not specify whether it has already been discussed with the Russian side.
Traikov's statement comes to suggest that Bulgaria has difficulties reaching a final agreement with Russia on the construction of its second NPP in Belene.
The Bulgarian government continues to be haggling with the Russian company Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, over the price for the construction of two 1000-MW reactors in the future second plant in Belene, and to be struggling to find strategic foreign investors. Traikov himself has indicated several times that Bulgaria could decide to build one or two more reactors in Kozloduy regardless of the fate of the questionable Belene project.
Only the two VVER-type 1000-MW reactors at Kozloduy, Unit 5 and Unit 6, are in operation after Bulgaria agreed to shut down the "small" 440-MW reactors 1-4 in 2002 and 2006 as part of its EU accession negotiations.
Atomstroyexport was selected with a tender in 2008 to build two 1000-MW nuclear reactors at Belene, a troubled project first started in the late 1980s.
The equipment for Bulgaria's intended second nuclear power plant has already been ordered to Rosatom, and the first of the two reactors is expected to be ready at the end of the spring. The construction site in the Danube town of Belene has been conserved over the talks going on in the past months over the price.
It is still unclear if the idea to shift nuclear equipment from Belene to the existing plant in Kozloduy stands any chance of realization, if it has clear-cut benefits for Bulgaria, and if the Russians will agree on it.
Should it be realized, however, it may pave the way for attracting other potential foreign investors to Belene. An example in hand could be a potential interest on part of China. In talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in New York City in September 2010, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao declared that China wanted to invest in Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant in Belene but only if the plant were to use a Chinese nuclear technology. Back then the Bulgarian government reacted by thanking for the offer but saying that its predecessors had already signed a deal with the Russians.
In the fall of 2010, Bulgaria's Economy Minister explained that the license of Unit 5 of the Kozloduy plant expires in 2017, and of Unit 6 – in 2019, but that the government will take measures to extend their life.
In November 2010, the newly-appointed CEO of the Kozloduy NPP Kostadin Dimitrov forecast that the life of the two reactors will be extended by 20 years.
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