Electricity

Krško nuclear power plant to extend operation for another 20 years

Krško nuclear power plant extends operation for another 20 years

Photo: NEK

Published

January 18, 2023

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Published:

January 18, 2023

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The Slovenian government has issued an environmental approval to extend the operating life of the Krško nuclear power plant until 2043. The environmental impact assessment was prepared by a multinational working group from about thirty countries and conducted by Slovenia’s environment ministry.

The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning of Slovenia carried out the environmental impact assessment to extend the operating life of the Krško nuclear power plant (NEK) until 2043.

The assessment team found no safety risks in extending the operating life of the power plant from 40 to 60 years. The procedure lasted over two years and involved more than 50 experts from institutions in Slovenia and Croatia, as well as employees of NEK.

The assessment found no safety risks in extending the plant’s operating life from 40 to 60 years

NEK has a capacity of 696 MW and covers 20% of electricity consumption in Slovenia and 14% in Croatia.

The plant is located in the eastern part of the country, on the border with Croatia. It has been in operation since 1981, and is co-owned by Slovenian state energy company Gen Energija and Croatian power utility Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP).

International cooperation on impact assessment

Instructions for carrying out the environmental impact assessment were prepared by an international working group from as many as 30 countries, led by Germany and the United Kingdom, noted the Slovenian ministry.

The focus of the assessment was on safety improvements, reduced probabilities of environmental accidents and earthquakes, and resilience to the impact of climate change and other external factors.

All four neighboring countries took part in cross-border consultations

All four neighboring countries, Croatia, Austria, Italy, and Hungary, together with Germany, participated in cross-border consultations.

By implementing the procedure and issuing the approval, Slovenia acted in line with the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context and the United Nations – UNECE guidelines, said Slovenian Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan.

Krško is prepared to operate until 2043

Following an overhaul and technological upgrades, NEK now meets the criteria defined by the EU taxonomy for the long-term operation of nuclear power plants.

Stanislav Rožman, Chairman of the Board of Directors at NEK, said that all procedures are in the final stage and that there is no need for physical technological upgrades.

The Krško NPP has a dry storage facility for used nuclear fuel, completed at the end of 2022. This year, the first campaign of transporting used fuel from the pool to a dry warehouse is also planned.

With that move, NEK will have met all the requirements and implemented all the decisions of the administrative bodies for extending the operating life, Rožman pointed out.

NGOs played an important role

The ministry conducted the environmental impact assessment following a lawsuit by NGOs in Slovenia.

The lawsuit sought the annulment of the Slovenian Environmental Agency’s (ARSA) decision that such an assessment was not necessary to extend the nuclear power plant’s operation.

The ministry carried out the environmental impact assessment following a lawsuit by NGOs

A similar decision was made by the European Court of Justice when, following Greenpeace’s lawsuit concerning the nuclear plants Duel 1 and Duel 2 in Belgium, it considered such a case for the first time and ruled that an environmental impact assessment must be carried out.

Studies for these plants are ongoing but have not yet been completed, making Slovenia’s study the first environmental impact assessment in Europe for extending the operation of a nuclear power plant.

Referendum for a second reactor at Krško

Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob recently announced a referendum on the planned second block of NEK, to be held once reactor technology has been chosen. His Croatian counterpart, Andrej Plenković, has said he supports the plant’s expansion.

PM has announced a referendum on the planned second block of the power plant after reactor technology is chosen

Three environmental organizations have filed a lawsuit over the issued energy permits for the planned second block, so the expansion of NEK is currently in dispute.

The construction of a second block would cost between EUR 5 billion and EUR 6 billion, while its annual production would be 8,800 GWh. The decision on a new block should be made within the next five years, Golob said.

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