Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted by 112 to 45, with 39 abstentions, in favour of a draft decision asking ministers to negotiate with the US government for a new AP1000 unit at Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

Kozloduy supplies about a third of Bulgaria's electricity (Image: Kozloduy NPP)

The vote also urges actions to be taken by 1 March to speed up the process of approval and construction of what would be unit 7 of the Kozloduy plant, as well as initiating a licensing and environmental impact assessment procedure for another reactor - which would be unit 8 - at Kozloduy.

The vote took place on Thursday, and comes at a time when the country remains in political stalemate after a fourth election in two years failed to produce a permanent government.

One of the parties which opposed the motion was the left-of-centre BSP. It has since been asked by the country's president to see if it could put together a big enough coalition to form a government, after two other parties failed in their efforts to do so. According to the BTA news agency, the BSP’s Rumen Gechev said his parliamentary group did not oppose the new reactors at Kozloduy, but voted against because they believed the construction of Belene nuclear power plant should be completed first.

Bulgaria's two operating Russian-designed VVER-1000 reactors at Kozloduy - units 5 and 6 - generate about one-third of the country's electricity. Their first grid connections were in 1987 and 1991 respectively and they have both been through refurbishment and life extension programmes to enable extension of operation from 30 to 60 years. Kozloduy 1-4 reactors were VVER-440 models which the European Commission had classified as non-upgradeable and Bulgaria agreed to close them down during their negotiations to join the European Union in 2007.

The Belene project in northern Bulgaria has been for the construction of two 1000 MWe units, using Russian VVER-1000 designs. Preliminary site works began in 2008, and contracts for components including large forgings and I&C systems were signed with suppliers, but the project was stymied by financing problems and was suspended in 2012. In 2019, the government advertised for a strategic investor to participate in the Belene project to build two large reactors, but said that neither funding guarantees nor long-term electricity sales contracts would be offered.

In January 2021, the Bulgarian Council of Ministers approved plans for a seventh unit at Kozloduy and said discussions had been held with the USA’s Westinghouse about making maximum use of the Russian-supplied equipment already purchased for the Belene project, which was at the time said to be worth about BGN1.3 billion (USD810 million).

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Tuesday, 17 January 2023
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Bulgarian-parliament-backs-new-AP1000-reactor-at-K