Bulgaria abandons Belene, announces new reactors at Kozloduy

Bulgaria abandon Belene, and announces new reactors at Kozloduy

Photo: Gogo89873 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode


February 16, 2022




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February 16, 2022




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The head of the Bulgarian government Kiril Petkov said that instead of Belene, the authorities will consider the possibility of building new reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant. It comes a few months after an agreement between NuScale Power and Kozloduy on plans for installing small modular reactors (SMRs) in Bulgaria. Also, NuScale and Polish KGHM signed an agreement on preparations for deploying SMRs in Poland. Romania has a similar deal with the United States–based firm.

Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and US-based NuScale signed a memorandum of understanding in November on new nuclear facilities with SMR technology, with the intention to install the nuclear modules within the existing Kozloduy nuclear power plant near the town of the same name on the Danube in northwest Bulgaria, in Vratsa province.

Bulgaria decided to abandon the construction of the Belene plant

New Prime Minister Kiril Petkov pointed to the Belene nuclear plant project as an example of unreasonable spending and corruption, and stated that Bulgaria would not continue it. He said that it makes much more sense to develop new blocks in Kozloduy instead.

Prime Minister Petkov pointed to the Belene project as an example of unreasonable spending and corruption

In an interview with BTV, Petkov said the grid connections with neighboring Greece and, “perhaps, Serbia” should be optimized so that they may buy electricity from Kozloduy.

The Belene project history

As Russian Gazeta reports, after 15 years of empty negotiations, Russia will not build a nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. The Belene site is located 7.5 kilometers from the border with Romania, near the Danube.

The National Electricity Company of Bulgaria (NEC) and Rosatom signed an agreement in 2006 on its construction, but the contract was never concluded. The project involved two units with a total capacity of more than 2 GW. Bulgaria has invested about EUR 1.5 billion in the project, but in 2009 the process was stopped. Rosatom’s Atomstroyexport had already manufactured the first set of equipment for the nuclear power plants. In 2016, NEC fully repaid its EUR 601.6 million debt to Rosatom.

Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov tried in May 2018 to restart the Belene project. A strategic investor was supposed to be selected through a competitive procedure. In June 2020, Rosatom, French Framatome SAS and General Electric Steam Power signed memorandums of understanding on a joint bid for the Belene project. However, the tender was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bulgaria decided to abandon the construction of the Belene plant, and use the equipment supplied by Rosatom to build a new reactor at Kozloduy

As Gazeta.ru reports, the government in Sofia then again decided to abandon the construction of the Belene plant, and use the equipment supplied by Rosatom to build a new reactor at the existing Kozloduy nuclear power plant, with Westinghouse.

Updates in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan

Bulgaria plans to build energy storage capacity for 6 GWh by 2026 and a new battery plant is planned near Stara Zagora, said Minister of Energy Alexander Nikolov. It is part of the proposed changes in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The project includes the implementation of smart grids to reduce technological losses in the network and improve transparency, accuracy and rapid response to accidents. The idea with batteries is to divert electricity exports toward Bulgarian businesses, 3e-news.net reported.

The idea with battery projects is to divert electricity exports toward Bulgarian businesses

The government said it would negotiate with the United States on nuclear power technology for Kozloduy, but also projects for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and CO2 capture systems.

Prime Minister Petkov said the project for the construction of a steam and gas power plant in the Maritsa East (Maritsa Iztok) coal complex, which has been removed from the draft National Recovery and Resilience Plan, was a mistake. Bulgaria is already very much dependent on Russia in the energy sector, he said and added the plan needs to be focused on diversification.

Bulgaria is already too dependent on Russia in the energy sector, said Petkov

Six zones have been selected for research and pilot projects for geothermal energy within the recovery and resilience plan. Tests will be performed at a depth of 2,000-3,000 meters, officials said. They estimated costs for geothermal energy projects at EUR 3 million per MW.

Negotiations with the United States about Kozloduy will be not only on new nuclear facilities, but also on LNG projects and CO2 storage systems. It is the initial plan of the government for changes in the recovery plan, wrote 3e-news.net.

The revised version of the country`s recovery plan has been sent to Brussels for consideration and is awaiting a response from the European Commission, Petkov explained.

The government revealed it would not close coal facilities before there are enough energy storage systems in place, as 3e-news.net reports. Bulgaria has three scenarios for a coal phaseout in play: by 2035, 2038 or 2040.

SMR technology comes in Poland

After agreements on projects in Romanian nuclear power plant Cernavodă, and Bulgarian Kozloduy, NuScale Energy started its third partnership for small nuclear reactors in Europe in Poland.

The US firm signed a deal with copper and silver producer KGHM Polska Miedź to start the preparations for deploying a VOYGR SMR in Poland as early as 2029.

KGHM is planning to deploy four 77 MW light water reactors, and possibly expand to 12 later. Other Polish companies are also exploring SMR technology. Chemicals giant Synthos signed a letter of intent with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and BWXT Canada to cooperate in deploying BWRX-300 SMRs in Poland, with the intention to set up at least 10 of them by early 2030s. As reported by Notes from Poland, Westinghouse recently signed agreements with 10 Polish companies on cooperation and supply of nuclear technology.

At the moment, around 70% of domestic electricity production is from coal, which is the highest level in the European Union. Poland still didn`t set a coal phaseout deadline.

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