Hungary says that Russia’s Rosatom has given reassurances that "in terms of technology they are able to complete the project", with Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó looking forward to the construction entering its next phase.

The Paks II development would see two new reactors built alongside the existing Paks plant (Image: Paks II Ltd)

According to a report posted on the Hungarian government website after a meeting between Szijjártó and Rosatom’s director general Alexey Likhachev on Thursday, Szijjártó said that the project would make Hungary’s energy supply "more secure and more predictable" at a time when global energy markets were facing "appalling challenges".

The Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority is currently considering permit applications, with the minister saying that once the permits are issued "construction may enter its next phase".

Szijjártó said it was in Hungary's interest to increase its energy production, with nuclear energy "cheap, safe and environmentally friendly" and could help the country to meet its environmental protection goals.

In its own report on the meeting, Rosatom said: "Current issues relating to the project to construct the Paks II nuclear power plant were discussed at the meeting, as well as other Rosatom projects in Hungary.

"The parties paid particular attention to fulfilling the key activities of the roadmap for the Paks II project for 2022-2023 and transitioning to the stage of constructing the plant. The two parties agreed to maintain regular dialogue."

Nuclear energy is currently not subject to European Union sanctions, although earlier this week Rosatom was left "extremely disappointed" after the termination of the contract for a new nuclear power plant in Finland.

Hungary has four nuclear units at Paks, which is 100 km south of Budapest. These are Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurised water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987.

The Paks II project was launched in early 2014 by an inter-governmental agreement between Hungary and Russia for two VVER-1200 reactors to be supplied by Rosatom, with the contract supported by a Russian state loan to finance the majority of the project.

An application to build the containment building of the first new unit at Paks II was submitted in January. Project company Atomerőmű Zrt said it should be approved within 150 days, which would be around the end of May.

The submission was "an important milestone" said Atomerőmű Zrt, which is progressing the project and marks the first regulatory submission for a new nuclear building at the site.

The containment building is the main structure at a nuclear power plant, housing the reactor itself as well as its vital coolant systems. It has a role in containing the radioactive materials within, while also protecting the reactor system from external hazards. The design of the containment building for the VVER-1200 is 72 metres high and spans a diameter of 52 metres. It features two walls of reinforced concrete designed to cope with extremes of temperature and weather as well as earthquake, flood and even aircraft impact and nearby explosions.

The Hungarian licensing process involves an array of separate licences. Atomerőmű Zrt already has permits to connect Paks II to the electricity grid, and in November last year gained approval to manufacture two reactor pressure vessels for the Paks II units. Some 18 buildings are already being built on the site in preparation for construction, as well as a concrete plant and a plant for rebar assembly.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Saturday, 07 May 2022
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