Russian Expert: Bulgaria's N-Plant to Cost Whopping EUR 12 B
The construction of Bulgaria's nuclear power plant in Belene would cost no less than EUR 12 B, according to a famous Russian nuclear energy expert.
Bulat Nigmatulin, who also served as Russia's former Deputy-Minister of nuclear energy, made the statement earlier this week at the sitting of the ad-hoc parliamentary committee, set up to verify the data, facts and decision circumstances and activities under Belene NPP project since 2002 till the end of March 2012.
Nigmatulin did not hide he was at a loss why Bulgarians are still standing behind Belene project, provided that its cost will push electricity prices up to 14 euro cents, making exports unprofitable.
"Bulgaria has no reason to worry about electricity for the next twenty years. The country has even more than it needs. The important issue here is whether the electricity can be exported," the Russian expert said.
For years on end Belene has been a barren land, where billions of euros have been buried. Bulgarian taxpayers already had to dig deep into their pockets for the project, even though it has stalled over lack of a new investor and funding.
On January 27, 2013, Bulgarians will have to answer in a referendum the following question: "Should nuclear energy be developed in Bulgaria through the construction of new nuclear power units?"
Polls show that the referendum will not be valid as between 1.6 million and 2.1 million people are expected to cast a ballot, far below the threshold of 4 million needed to validate the vote.
Some twenty years after the Chernobyl disaster and faced with "the ominous prospect of turning the country into s disco club", Bulgaria's previously ruling Socialist-left coalition set its hopes on an ambitious solution - the construction of Belene Nuclear Power Plant's two 1,000-megawatt reactors near the Danube town of Belene.
The country started pushing the billion euro project in a bid to restore its position as a major electricity exporter in the Balkans, fanning a heated controversy.
The frequent U-turns of Bulgaria's current center-right prime minister over the project fueled suspicions that links between the mafia and the political system run deep in the energy sector.
This is the reason why the announcement in March that the center-right government of Boyko Borisov has abandoned plans to build a new nuclear power station at Belene left many Bulgarians thinking this is too good to be true.
The cost of the Belene project – which may well exceed ten billion euros, making electricity exports unprofitable – tops the list of criticisms, along with the environmental risks, the danger of seismic activity in the region and, last but not least, Bulgaria's dependence on Russia.
For a country that has suffered from the Chernobyl disaster and decommissioned several nuclear reactors over safety concerns, Bulgaria's pursuit of atomic energy is surprising at best, critics say.
They point out that nobody has expressed seriously desire to invest in the Russian nuclear project in the past four years after Germany's RWE pulled out due to "funding concerns".
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