Bulgaria has received 13 applications for participation in the Belene nuclear power project, the country’s energy minister announced today. The applicants included seven to be a strategic investor, four to be an electricity customer and/or minority shareholder, and two to be an equipment supplier.

Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova at a press briefing on the Belene project in Sofia today (Image: Energy Ministry)

According to Reuters, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told reporters in Sofia today: "There has been a lot of scepticism whether there will be interest at all for the project. With the applications we got this is no more, because these include some of the global leaders in nuclear energy."

The seven who have expressed an interest in being a strategic investor are: China National Nuclear Corporation; Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co; Rosatom through Atomenergoprom; a consortium including Czech firm Vitkovice Heavy Machinery; two Bulgaria-registered bidders, Belene NPP and Belene Nuclear Power Plant 2019; and a Germany-registered company 'Bektron-Liaz-Engineering'.

One Bulgarian company, Grand Energy Distribution, is interested in having a minority stake and also a power purchase agreement, a second, Atomenergoremont, in a minority stake only and a third, European Trade of Energy, in a power purchase agreement only. In addition, North Macedonia has expressed an interest in a minority stake and long-term contracts to buy electricity from the Belene plant.

Framatome and General Electric have said they are interested in providing equipment and in arranging financing for the project.

In the ministry's statement, Petkova said: "On 22 May this year, the procedure for selecting a strategic investor in the Belene NPP project was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The invitation also provided an opportunity to declare interest in acquiring minority interest in the future project of the company, as well as/or to purchase electricity from the future power plant. By the announced deadline, 19 August, 13 applicants had submitted applications.

"Within 90 days, a working group with representatives from the Ministry of Energy, Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD, National Electric Company EAD and Electricity System Operator EAD will prepare a shortlist of companies that are interested in participating in the Belene NPP project as strategic investors. The procedure is flexible and allows the selected strategic investor to hold talks with companies that have a minority interest in the project or an interest in purchasing electricity."

The shortlisted candidates will then be asked to file binding bids, Petkova reportedly said, adding that the government will not hire a consultant to advise it on the process, which it hopes to complete in May next year. She said the estimated cost of the project is EUR10 billion (USD11 billion).

The government has said it will have a majority stake in the project, which it expects to be complete by 2030, and will not provide state or corporate guarantees or offer to buy electricity from the plant under long-term contracts with preferential rates.

The Belene NPP construction project in northern Bulgaria includes construction of two 1000 MWe units, each using the Russian VVER-1000/V-466 design.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 28 August 2019
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Bulgaria-unveils-wide-interest-in-Belene-project