Budapest seeking to diversify energy supplies, says Tass reportThe four-unit Paks nuclear power station in Hungary.
Hungary’s national parliament has supported plans to allow using nuclear fuel from alternative sources to Russia for the Russian-built Paks nuclear power station, according to an unconfirmed report by the state Tass news agency.
According to Tass, lawmakers approved on Thursday (23 November) an amendment to the country’s nuclear energy strategy, proposed by the government.
The amendment says that “the [Paks] NPP may use a different, alternative fuel from another company, including during the extended period of its operation”.
Up until now, Paks has relied on Russian-supplied fuel.
“In order to ensure the facility’s long-term safety and functioning, the Hungarian government decided to look for potential alternatives,” Tass said.
The four units at Paks are VVER-440 reactors that began commercial operation between 1982 and 1987 and produce almost 50% of the country’s electricity.
Their design lifetime was 30 years, but that was extended in 2005 by 20 years to between 2032 and 2037.
In December 2022, the Hungarian parliament approved a proposal to further extend their lifespan, which means they can potentially operate into the 2050s.
Until 2022, fuel for Paks was delivered to Hungary via Ukraine, by rail, Tass said. However, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the delivery route was changed, going via the Black Sea and the Bulgarian port of Varna, from where it is delivered to Hungary by rail, via Bulgaria and Romania.
Tass said Hungary has no alternatives for fuel at Paks and the government has said “on many occasions” that it was not going to change its fuel supplier as long as deliveries remain stable.
“At the same time, the government is seeking to diversify its energy supplies in accordance with the European Union’s policies,” Tass said.
Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto has repeatedly said Budapest will not support any package of EU sanctions against Russia that includes the nuclear sector on the grounds of energy security.
Russia is also supplying two new units for the Paks 2 nuclear project. Both units will be Generation III+ VVER-1200 pressurised water reactor units.