Commentary Energy

Hungary needs Paks nuclear plant expansion

The capacity expansion of Hungary’s only nuclear plant in Paks, central Hungary is the only way to ensure low electricity prices, meeting the country’s emission goals and increasing its energy independence, conservative daily Magyar Hírlap writes.

János Süli, the minister in charge of the expansion, said recently that without the capacity expansion electricity prices would rise steeply, as power from conventional sources is at least 40 percent more expensive while energy from renewable sources costs three times as much.

Hungary has a contract with Russian state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom to expand the capacity of the plant originally built by the Soviet Union in the 1970s. The contract signed between Hungary and Rosatom gives the deal a value of EUR 12 billion, 80 percent of which will be covered by a Russian credit line of EUR 10 billion.

When completed, the upgrade will increase the nominal capacity of the Paks plant to 1,200 MW from the current 500 MW. Depending on actual consumption, Paks supplies about 35 to 40 percent of the country’s electricity needs.

A recent study by Hungary’s Energy Office found that Hungarian electricity prices are the second lowest in the European Union after Bulgaria and that is partly due to nuclear energy. Antal Kovács, spokesman of the Paks nuclear plant said that although of a Russian design, the Paks pressurized water reactors are of an entirely different type than the graphite-moderated light water reactors in Chernobyl, so a similar accident is excluded by the design’s active and passive safety features.

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