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Nuclear power

Hungary operates one NPP in Paks with four units. The NPP is located in the middle of Hungary, 5 km from the town of Paks. It generates more than a third of its electricity.

The first unit started operation in 1982. In 2003 32,7% of the electric energy production came from Paks.

Though originally 440 MWe gross, the units have been upgraded and will be modified further to give 500-510 MWe gross. The plant currently generates almost 40% of Hungary's electricity (source: world nuclear news).
Paks II

Hungary wants to build two new reactors at Paks. Operation start is scheduled for 2025 and 2030.
In 2012, an environmental impact assessment procedure for Paks II started.

Life-time extension of Paks-NPP

While the original operating time was planned for 30 years it is planned to be extended by another 20 years. In 2002 a two step licensing process started with the application for the environment license and is still ongoing.

In the first step a preliminary environmental impact study had been published, the licensing authority approved the preliminary study. In step 2 the detailed study is to be elaborated until 2007. Two hearings were held in 2006 in Hungary and in Austria. The environmental license was issued in Nov 2006. There are several other licences necessary. The first operational license will be necessary for unit 1 in 2008.
To see the Austrian position on Paks lifetime extension in detail

The decision of the authority for the license of the first unit was issued on 18th December 2012. The license gave permission for the first unit to be operated until 31st December 2032.
The license for the second unit was issued at 24th November 2014. It gives permission for 20 years of operation between 1st January 2015 and 31st December 2034. The PLEX program of the two remaining reactors is ongoing. Safety licensing of these units will happen in 2016 and 2017.

Developments in the nuclear sector

2015: Paks II

The two new reactors at Paks will be VVER-1200/V491. The Paks II project is very disputed. The Hungarian government signed a contract with the Russian Federation for a credit for 80% of the construction costs and for fuel supply for 20 years. European commission found the contract for the fuel supply not be legal without any tender procedure, so Hungary had to change it to 10 years. For the chosen reactor type there has also been no tender procedure. The Hungarian NGO Energieaklub complained at the EC because of state aid for nuclear power. The construction company MVM Ltd. cannot finance construction and operation alone, so the Hungarian state has to supplement.
For information on the EIA procedure:

2009, March 31: Hungarian parliament approves Paks expansion
The Hungarian parliament has given overwhelming preliminary support to a government proposal to begin the detailed preparation for the construction of new nuclear generating capacity at the Paks plant.
In a 30 March vote, the proposal was approved by 330 votes and opposed by six, while there were ten abstentions. The proposal was submitted by the minister for transport, energy and communications, Csaba Molna.
Under Hungary's nuclear energy act, the government must obtain parliament's preliminary conceptual approval before taking specific steps leading to the construction of new nuclear capacity.
The proposal had been approved earlier in the day by parliament's environmental committee in a vote with 15 in support, one against and one abstention.
A senior energy ministry official, Tamas Zarandy, told the committee that the increase in the capacity of the Paks nuclear plant was necessary in order to secure the electricity supply and price predictability, the MTI news agency reported. He said that the expansion is also justified on environmental and employment grounds.

(source: world nuclear news)

2009, Feb.: Study on potential of new NPP construction

A study about the potential to construct one or even two new units at the Paks site in Hungary will be carried out by Paks Nuclear Power plant Ltd.

1990s: Safety upgrades

Several safety upgrades had to take place in the nineties.
The safety upgrading program of the Paks NPP became legally binding. The systematic safety re-assessment has to be performed in ten year intervals. The final report concerning unit 1 and 2 of Paks NPP was submitted to HAEA in 1997, containing 84 corrective actions. HAEA added another 14 corrective actions, and granted operating licence to unit 1 and 2 until 2008. The timely implementation of the most important 23 corrective actions, against their deadlines distributed in the 1998-2002 period, serves as condition for validity of the operating licence . The report of periodic safety of unit 3 and 4 was submitted to the HAEA at the end of 1999.

The most important corrective actions implemented in 1996-1998 were
  • relocation of steam generator emergency feed-water supply,
  • emergency gas removal from the primary coolant system,
  • hydrogen management in the containment,
  • protection of containment sumps,
  • preventing of emergency care cooling system tanks from refuelling.

As a result of implementing these measures on all four units, the core damage frequency decreased from 5 10-4 to 4 10-5 /year.

The safety upgrading measures presently under implementation are
  • increasing seismic resistance,
  • containment assessment,
  • reactor protection system refurbishment,
  • emergency electrical supply reliability improvement,
  • analysis of internal hazards.
Safety upgrading measures in preparation phase are:
  • bleed and feed procedure,
  • reactor over-pressurisation protection in cold state,
  • treatment of steam generator primary to secondary leak accidents.

The investment money spent in the period 1996-1998 is roughly 90 million USD, the funds planned to be invested in 1999-2002 are 150 million USD.

Radioactive Waste

Solymár and Püspökszilágy

Before 1976 LILW was disposed of at Solymár near Budapest
When the new facility in Püspökszilágy was commissioned in 1976, the waste from Solymár was removed there. Meanwhile Püspökszilágy had to be extended but is full by now. Part of the waste from Paks has also been stored there until 1989, and again between 1992 and 1996.

Search of a new repository

Since 1993 Hungary is searching for a site for a new LILW disposal facility. After a thorough investigation and selection process a granite formation at Bátaapáti (south-west of Hungary) was found as candidate for disposal of LILW in an underground repository.

Because of a political debate emerged due to controversial expert opinions the Minister supervising the Fund suspended the works until a broader consensus would be achieved. For promoting the consensus the IAEA was asked to organise an experts mission which was held in November 1999 and took the position that further investigations were needed, and also gave recommendation for broadening the bases of assessment and including some additional aspects for consideration.

Spent fuel management

Fuel for Paks had been supplied by the Soviet Union/Russia, and Russia also took back the spent fuel. After 1995 Russia stopped this deal and the spent fuel ponds at Paks became nearly full by the end of 1995. So an Interim Storage was constructed at the site, a modular system dry-storage facility designed by the British company GEC Alsthom, which can be expanded as necessary. In 2004 Hungary and Russia signed an agreement to resume transportation of spent fuel to Russia which was protested against by European Anti-nuclear NGOs.

HLW and spent fuel from Paks is stored in the Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility at the NPP site. The first eleven modules (each for 450 assemblies) of the storage are in operation and almost filled to its full capacity. The facility allows for the storage of spent fuel assemblies for a period of 50 years. Hence, it is not necessary to take immediate action in respect of the final disposal of spent fuel, and the decision for final storage may be delayed.

The fuel of the Paks NPP is slightly enriched uranium dioxide, of which 42 tons are placed in one unit.
Paks NPP and Loviisa NPP have contracted British Nuclear Fuels Plc. to develop fuel assemblies for VVER-440 type reactors. The first five of such test assemblies have been built and successfully loaded into Loviisa's reactor. A reload batch of similar assemblies could be loaded into one of Paks NPP's reactors earliest in 2002.

Sites With Nuclear Facilities

siteplantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
BataapatiBataapatiLILW repository
PaksPaksInterim Spent Fuel Storage19951997
Paks-1WWER 440 V21319741982
Paks-2WWER 440 V21319741984
Paks-3WWER 440 V21319791986
Paks-4WWER 440 V21319791987
PüspökszilágyPüspökszilágyWaste treatment and disposal facility