Commentary Energy

Paks nuclear plant expansion begins

The capacity expansion of Hungary’s only nuclear plant in Paks, central Hungary began on Thursday with the construction of the ancillary buildings, conservative daily Magyar Nemzet reports.

“The Paks nuclear plant is the guarantee that will ensure Hungarian enterprises and private consumers have cheap, dependable and safe energy in the long term,” minister in charge of the Paks II project János Süli said at the ceremony.

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.

Süli also said 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.

He added that countries which opted to phase out nuclear power – such as Germany – will be unable to meet their emission goals as they are forced to return to coal-fired power plants. Due to the fact that Hungary currently imports some 60 percent of its electricity needs, the capacity boost will also increase Hungary’s self-reliance.

Title image: Schematics of the Paks reactor bloc Magyar Nemzet/Zoltán Havran)

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