by Benedek Jávor
A new nuclear power plant with two blocks from Rosatom (VVER1200) is planned as an addition to the existing four-block nuclear power plant, Paks-1 that currently generates some 40% of the Hungarian energy production. According to the contract, Hungary signed with Russian Federation, the two reactors of the new plant will be operational by 2025 and will cost 12,5 billion EUR. 80% of the foreseeable capital cost is financed by an intergovernmental loan from Russia.
Although the Hungarian government states that everything is perfectly planned, the project is fiercely contested by experts, political stakeholders and the public both on the Hungarian and the European level. Some are infuriated by the lack of preliminary investigations, impact assessments, public consultation, lack of transparency and alternative scenarios and the centralization of the decision and the energy systems. From Europe, there are concerned voices due to lack of tendering, the obstacle the plant poses to restructure the Hungarian energy mix and to add renewables and also due to risk of corruption and illegal state aid. I organized a hearing together with Energiaklub and NTW on the issue in late March. You can find the summary here.
Since, I have been working on several issues related to the new nuclear power plant and I would like to share the latest developments:
STATE AID CASE
The NGO Energiaklub of Hungary submitted a complaint to the European Commission to start a non-notified state aid procedure in 2014. Recently Commissioner Vestager replied to our joint letter with Energiaklub and she states that the HU government formally notified the Paks 2 project to the Commission on 22/05/2015.The Hungarian government claims that financing Paks-2 is not a state aid, as they think the return of investment is more than favourable. The EC is currently waiting for further explanation from the Hungarian government and after receiving all the relevant data, the EC have 2 months to come up with its position.
Energiaklub has recently made an analysis, which claims exactly the opposite.
LEAKED PRELIMINARY DOCUMENTS FOR FEASIBILITY STUDY
Despite the fact that the District Court of Budapest ruled in a decision that Energiaklub could not have been given access to the preliminary and background docs for the new NPP as they did not exist according to the Hungarian government, I published a series of short documents that were given to me from the electricity management company MVM and from academia that indirectly prove the existence of the above mentioned documents and give also some insight to the weak points that have been raised by many people, some of whom are specifically connected to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The opinion from MVM states that there are elementary mistakes and out-dated data in the modelling and no appropriate modelling of the system integration. The grid integration is not modelled as needed. The work is not budgeted and planned, as would be needed at this stage of implementation. The documents affirm our hypothesis that the promoters do not actually know costs, they just have estimates. The costs are underestimated and exclude a series of additional investments needed for the operation of the NPP. External factors like the EU competition law are totally ignored in the analysis.
The first document from academia says that when Paks2 will operate with both blocks, it will be necessary to cut operation time for Paks 1. The document actually estimates that block 4 will be able to run for only 1000h/year, in other words 30-35% less production. It also states that a pumped storage facility will be needed for the grid system regulation and this has not been budgeted for.
The second is specifically about cooling water and highlights mistakes committed for the cold-water channel of Paks1. It states that the new NPP will cause serious nature protection problems and that excess heat will call for (partial) capacity reduction which will in itself hinder the 95% planned use of the new NPP and the financial prospective won’t be achieved. Furthermore, it is likely that nature protection standards are likely to rise in the coming 60 years and might lead to new situations like the one in the Rhône where drought threatens the cooling of nuclear plants.
The authenticity of the documents has been confirmed by both MVM and the Hungarian Academy of sciences.
PUBLIC HEARINGS ALL OVER EUROPE
Over the summer the international phase of the Environmental Impact assessment for Paks-2 is running and we expect public hearing in the concerned countries in the early autumn. So far dates for Germany (16/09), Ukraine (17/10) and Autria (23/09) have been fixed.
Benedek Jávor is a member of NTW and member of the European Parliament for Together – Dialogue for Hungary Alliance. He is first vice-chair of the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and is a substitute member of the Committee of Industry, Research and Energy. Furthermore, Benedek is a founding member of the environmental NGO Védegylet (Protect the Future!) and holds a PhD. in biology.