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Role of nuclear power

Bulgaria has two nuclear reactors in operation generating about 35% of its electricity.
The first commercial nuclear power reactor started operation in 1974.
The two reactors will undergo lifetime extension to reach a lifetime of 60 years.
A new reactor is planned at Kozloduy.

NPPs in Bulgaria

Until 2002 Bulgaria operated six nuclear power units at the Kozloduy site comprising four VVWER-440/230 units and two WWER-1000/320 units - all manufactured and imported from the former USSR.
In 2002 the two oldest WWER 440 plants have been closed - following Bulgaria's accession process to the European Union.
Under this agreement Kozloduy 3 and 4 were closed in 2006.

The Belene project on the Danube river originally included the construction of four 1000 MW(e) units imported from the former USSR. Construction started in 1986 but stopped in 1990 mainly due to public opposition and financial problems even though 40% of the first unit were already complete.
The Bulgarian Council of Ministers decided on 19 December 2002 to resume the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant.

In March 2012 the project has officially been declared as terminated (see article further down).

Developments in the nuclear sector


On Oct. 9, 2014, a contract for the realization of the second stage of the project for extending the operational capacity of Unit 5 of NPP Kozloduy was signed. The commissioner of the contract is the Bulgarian nuclear power plant; the contractor is a consortium comprising of “Rusatom Services”, “Rosenergoatom”, and EDF. The goal is to extend the total exploitation period of Unit 5 to 60 years. The license of the Unit issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Agency expires in 2017. Similar steps will be taken for Unit 6 whose license expires in 2019. The extension of the capacity of Units 5 and 6 is a national priority and is included in the programme of the new government.

2011-03-28: Belene NPP construction declared dead

"Bulgaria's Belene Nuclear Power Plant will not be constructed, the country's Deputy Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov announced on on Wednesday.

A natural gas power plant will be built in the Danube town of Belene instead, Goranov told reporters after Wednesday's Council of Ministers sitting.

The nuclear reactor already assembled by Rosatom subsidiary Atomstroyexport and originally meant for Belene will be placed in Bulgaria's sole nuclear power plant, Kozloduy.

On Thursday, Bulgaria's newly appointed Economy and Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev will travel to Moscow in order to inform Russia of his country's decision to scrap the project.

The construction of the 2000 MW plant by Atomexportstroy had been delayed with annexes 15 times.

At the end of last week, Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said in a TV interview that Belene would never remain just a Russian-Bulgarian project and would not go forward without a European or American investor.

A few days ago, his Deputy, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, admitted that Bulgaria has "almost given up on the project."

Russia's state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom had made it clear it is ready to agree on yet another extension of the contract with the Bulgarian government for the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant.

The currently active extension of the 2006 deal between Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK and Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport was set to expire at the end of March 2012.

In October 2011, Bulgaria and Russia reached an agreement to extend the negotiations over Belene nuclear project by another six months as of the beginning of October amidst continuing haggling over its price and feasibility.

The greatest issue over which Bulgaria and Russia had been haggling for the past two years under the Borisov Cabinet was the price of the project, with Russia insisting it should be no less than EUR 6.3 B, while Bulgaria was demanding a price of no more than EUR 5 B.

After selecting the Russian company Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, to build a two 1000-MW reactors at Belene and signing a deal for the construction, allegedly for the price of EUR 3.997 B, with the Russians during Putin's visit to Sofia in January 2008, in September 2008, former Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev gave a formal restart of the building of Belene.

At the end of 2008, German energy giant RWE was selected as a strategic foreign investor for the plant.

The Belene NPP was de facto frozen in the fall of 2009 when the previously selected strategic investor, the German company RWE, which was supposed to provide EUR 2 B in exchange for a 49% stake, pulled out.

In November 2010, shortly after a visit to Sofia by Russian PM Putin, Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK and Russian state company Rosatom signed a memorandum providing for a final fixed price for the two reactors of EUR 6.298 B.

According to the non-binding memorandum expiring on March 31, 2011, Bulgaria's NEK would have had a share of 51% in the Belene NPP, Rosatom – a share of 47%, Finnish company Fortum - a share of 1%, and French company Altran Technologies - a share of 1% with an option to increase it. Serbia had expressed interest in acquiring a share of 5%-10%.

In mid-March 2011, apparently acting on concerns caused by the situation in Japan's Fukushima NPP after the recent devastating earthquake there, the European Commission confirmed that it wanted to reexamine the Belene NPP project - once Bulgaria finds an investor for it - even though it already approved it back in 2007."

(source: SOFIA NEWS AGENCY - novinite http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=137961, distributed over actu3@sortirdunucleaire.fr)

2009-11-27: New reactors in Kozloduy?

"Despite ongoing difficulties with its plan for new reactors at Belene, Bulgarian ministers are actively considering new build at an existing nuclear site.

Speaking at a conference on the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy, Traicho Traikov announced that a feasibility study on new reactors at Kozloduy would be ready next month. The minister of economy, energy and tourism specified that a capacity of around 1000 MWe is envisaged, which he said fits with existing infrastructure.

Two 405 MWe reactors at the plant were closed at the end of 2006 in an accession deal with the EU, while two later models continue to supply 953 MWe each and account for 35% of the country's power.

"In the coming days we will begin the selection of a consultant," said Traikov of the country's leading new nuclear project, Belene. This firm is meant to "set the framework" for Belene and get the two-reactor development back into motion after the departure of RWE as potential 49% stakeholder. Securing finance was the main difficulty under the old project framework, although criticism has been directed at the previous government. Now the new government has proposed to reduce its stake from 51% to 20% and invite new expressions of interest.

The Russian state is willing to support the export of its reactors, and has €3.8 billion already budgeted for a loan, but Bulgarian leaders are evidently unenthusiastic about the prospect.

On the question whether it is possible to begin two new nuclear projects, Traikov said it would be economically justified if a market wants the product. At present the region has a deficit of electricity, he noted, although there are many competing energy project"

(source: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org)

2009-10-28: RWE officially withdraws from Belene NPP project

"German Energy Giant RWE Withdraws from Bulgarian Nuclear Power Plant

Berlin / Sofia - In a letter to the Bulgarian Energy holding, the German company RWE today announced its withdrawal from the controversial Belene nuclear power plant (NPP) in northern Bulgaria. RWE cites doubts about the project´s profitability as the major reason for the company´s retreat.

"For the past 18 months, we´ve been pointing out to RWE that Belene is a high-risk project in terms of safety, economics, environment and corruption," says Heffa Schücking from the German environment NGO Urgewald. "It sure took the company a long time to face up to the facts," she comments. RWE´s decision comes in the wake of a broad grass-roots campaign of German environment organizations against RWE´s
investment plans in Belene. Some 30,000 German citizens sent letters and petitions to RWE´s CEO asking him to withdraw from the project. Several of the company´s major investors also spoke out against the plan to invest into a NPP in an area of high seismicity in a country with low nuclear standards and high corruption.

"This is the beginning of the end of Belene," says Petko Kovachev from the Bulgarian Green Policy Institute. "After 12 international banks decided to decline financing for the project in 2006 and 2007, RWE was Belene´s last hope," explains Kovachev. RWE was slated to provide 49% of the project´s equity and its decision to withdraw sends out a clear signal to investors and banks regarding the project´s questionable economics.

"This is a huge success for civil society and nuclear safety in Europe," says Albena Simeonova from the BeleNE! (No to Belene) Coalition in Bulgaria. Simeonova, who traveled to Germany last Spring to speak at RWE´s annual shareholder meeting, adds:
"RWE never should have become involved in the crazy plan to build Russian nuclear reactors in an earthquake area. We are happy to hear that they have finally withdrawn from this dangerous project and hope that our own Government will now follow suit."


Construction of the Belene nuclear power station started in 1985. From the beginning, there was controversy around the seismic risks as a large earthquake hit the region in 1977 and killed over 120 people only 14 km from the planned NPP site. The project was halted in 1991, and finally dropped in 1992 due to its environmental and economic risks. In 2003, however, the Bulgarian government restarted the project and in 2006, it decided to build two completely new reactors at the Belene site. The tender for construction was won by the Russian firm Atomstroyexport to build an AES-92 nuclear power station with two VVER 1000/466B reactors. This is a first of a kind reactor that has no operational record elsewhere in the world. The new Bulgarian government, which came to power in July 2009, is currently re-evaluating the project. Although it has also raised doubts concerning the project´s economic feasibility, the current government has nonetheless commissioned a consultant to help private investors for Belene.

Belene is estimated to cost around 10 billion Euros. In 2006, Deutsche Bank, UniCredit and 10 further large commercial banks all turned down applications to finance the project. In 2008 and 2009, several large energy companies also turned down invitations to become investors into the project. "

(source: NO! to Belene coalition (BeleNE!) and urgewald, distributed by no-nukes list)

2009-10-27: Major components for Belene from Russia

"Russian engineering companies Power Machines and AtomEnergoProm have signed a contract to supply major power generating equipment for a two-unit nuclear plant planned for Bulgaria.

Under the terms of the latest contract, OJSC Power Machines will design, manufacture and supply the two steam turbine sets, condensers and auxiliary turbine system equipment and two sets of turbo generators plus auxiliary systems equipment. The components are scheduled for delivery in 2011-2012. According to AtomEnergoProm, similar components manufactured by Power Machines have performed well at the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China, and the Belene components will incorporate "new solutions" to fit them to the customer's needs.

Russia's AtomStroyExport is lined up to build two AES-92 1060 MWe pressurized water reactors at Belene under a €4 billion ($6 billion) turn-key contract signed in January 2008. Construction officially started on 3 September 2008, and Areva-Siemens consortium Carsib signed up to supply instrumentation and control later in the year. A contract for the pressure vessels and steam generators was placed with Russia's OMZ in June 2009.

The two units were due for completion in December 2013 and June 2014, although by December 2008 it appeared that those dates were likely to slip by about a year. However, following a change of government in Bulgaria earlier this year there has been widespread concern over whether the funding for the plant would be available, with the new government looking likely to take only a 20% stake in the plant rather than its originally anticipated 51% and strategic investor RWE also expected to reduce its stake.

Bulgaria was forced to close a total of four nuclear units at its Kozloduy plant as a condition of its 2007 accession to the European Union, and has now been granted an extension of European Union financial support to enable it to adapt to the loss of over 1600 MWe in generating capacity. "

(source: world-nuclear-news.org)

2009-10-26: EC-compensation for shutdown of Kozloduy

"Bulgaria has won an extension of financial support from the European Commission for the early shutdown of nuclear power reactors at Kozloduy.

The extra €300 million ($440 million) over three years from 2010 is to help the country adapt and improve its energy networks and takes the overall compensation package to €850 million ($1.2 billion). Four functioning reactors at Kozloduy were shut down early as part of the country's deal to join the European Union with the loss of over 1600 MWe in generating capacity. This ended the country's role as a major regional exporter of power and lead to the loss of many local high-tech jobs.

"This investment in a safer and more sustainable Bulgarian energy network illustrates our desire to see Bulgaria fully integrated in the common European energy market," said EC President José Manuel Barroso."
(source: world-nuclear.org)

2009-07-30: High chances that construction of Belene NPP is stopped

Bulgaria may cancel construction of a 4 billion-euro ($5.5 billion) nuclear power station and sell shares in its state-run energy utilities to plug a widening deficit, according to Deputy Prime Minister Simeon Djankov.

Djankov, 39, a former chief economist at the World Bank, is also finance minister in the government of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, who took office July 27. Borissov ousted a Socialist- led coalition in July 5 elections, pledging to fight corruption and pull the European Union’s poorest nation out of recession.

The new government’s plan to balance the budget by the end of this year may halt the planned reactor at Belene on the Danube River, in which RWE AG is a partner. Djankov is seeking to raise cash from assets to bridge a 2.5 billion-lev ($1.8 billion) budget gap, Bulgaria’s first in eight years, and says spending cuts also will be needed.

“There is an 80 percent chance that the Belene project will be stopped,” Djankov said in an interview in Sofia yesterday. “The state has no funds to spare for its construction and it has been difficult to raise private funds because of the global crisis.”

He said there was no economic assessment of the project’s profitability, and legal analysis showed there would be no penalties if it was canceled.

Bulgaria selected RWE, Germany’s second-largest utility, last year to develop and manage the 2,000-megawatt plant. The government also hired BNP Paribas SA, France’s largest bank by market value, to arrange a 250 million-euro loan to help fund construction.

Rival Plants

Russia’s ZAO Atomstroyexport was chosen in 2005 to build the plant, with Areva SA and Siemens AG as subcontractors. Preliminary construction work started last October.

Government studies indicate that by 2015, when the Belene nuclear power plant was expected to be fully operational, the Balkan region would be a much smaller electricity market as neighboring countries including Greece, Romania and Macedonia are also currently building power plants, Djankov said.

Bulgaria is assessing all large energy projects “to find out what are the possibilities for postponement or cancellation, in some cases, and what are the penalties implied,” Djankov said.

One project is South Stream, a 900-kilometer (560-mile) pipeline under the Black Sea that would link Russia directly with Bulgaria and ship natural gas onward to other EU nations. The other is a 1 billion-euro oil pipeline running from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Bourgas to the Greek port of Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea, bypassing Turkey’s congested Bosphorus.

Spending Plans

“We have to see whether they are meaningful economically, how much are they going to cost, when are they going to happen,” Djankov said. “There are quite large commitments in the energy projects, of at least half a billion lev, and we’re now going project by project.”

The government is aiming to cut administrative costs by 15 percent and plans to keep spending on education, health care and social welfare unchanged, he said, adding most cuts must come from capital investment.

Djankov also said Bulgaria is planning to float as much as 15 percent of Bulgarian Energy Holding, which groups the country’s main state-run energy utilities.

“We would like to list minority packages of the remaining state-owned energy companies,” Djankov said. “They’re interesting investments and will help boost the domestic stock market.”

Share Listing

Bulgarian Energy Holding, set up a year ago with assets totaling 4 billion euros, groups the National Electricity Company EAD, the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, dominant natural gas trader Bulgargaz AD and the Maritza East-2 power plant with adjacent mines.

The bourse listing will force the company “to comply with the rules of the stock exchange for more transparency and disclosure of financial information, which would help us, the government, to clarify some of the inefficiencies that now exist in the energy sector,” Djankov said.

The company’s annual revenue amounted to 5 billion lev, while its pre-tax income was 105 million lev, well below the 20 percent average profit margin for similar energy companies in Europe, Djankov said.

The government is considering two options, Djankov said. One would list between 10 percent and 15 percent of Bulgarian Energy Holding itself, while the other would disband the company and list the same proportion of the most lucrative utilities, including National Electricity, Bulgargaz and Kozloduy.
(source: http://www.bloomberg.com, article by Elizabeth Konstantinova, distributed by no-nukes list)

2009-04-25: Earthquake at planned site for Belene NPP

In the evening of 25 April, the region around the planned nuclear power station Belene in North
Bulgaria was shaken by an earthquake. The epicenter of 5,3 on the Richter scale
was in the Vrancea mountain in Romania (some 400 km northeast of Sofia) and was also felt in Bulgaria
According to the Sofia News Agency, panic broke out in several places. In the towns of Svishtov and Nikopol, only several kilometers from site of the planned nuclear power station, people left their houses and stayed
out for over an hour. This was also the origin of the large earthquake in 1977 that killed 120 people in Svishtov and damaged 2/3 of the buildings in the town.

"The seismic risks of the site are well known for a long time - building a nuclear power station
here should never have been allowed in the first place," said the Bulgarian environmentalist and
Goldman Environmental Award winner Albena Simeonova, who has an organic farm near
Belene. "Yesterday's earthquake is a new warning to RWE. The company should withdraw
immediately from this project. Otherwise Bulgaria could become the site of a new Chernobyl,"
said Simeonova.

On the shareholdersmeeting on 22 April, RWE CEO Jürgen Großmann for the first time
announced the company will do seismic studies to the site. "This documents the complete
incompetence of the company," comments Heffa Schücking, director of the environmental and
human rights organisation urgewald. "Seismic studies should be done at the start of the project
and not at the end of the planning process," and she explained, that the design of a nuclear
power plant is tailor made for the location. That is not only for the base, but also for the
vulnerable inner parts of the reactors. In the case of Belene, the detailed design by the Russian
nuclear constructor is already ready and the licencing procedure in Buglaria is already in full
swing. "These studies would come far too late and the results have to be considered therefore
pre-determined. From our point of view, this is a simple PR stunt to silence concerned
shareholders and members in the Supervisory Board," according to Schücking.

RWE is under increasing pressure, not only from environmental organisations. On the
shareholders meeting several large shareholders criticised the Belene project. For example, the
representative of the Union Investment Group, holding 4,5 Million RWE shares, said:
"Participation in this power station is irresponsible [...] That the RWE management allows itself
to be linked with this ticking time-bomb is incomprehensible."

Also the Dutch province of Brabant has a critical view. It is currently blocking the sale of the
Dutch utility Essent to RWE. In the 12 hour debate in the Brabant provincial parliament last
Friday, Belene was mentioned several times as example of the irresponsible investment policies
of RWE.

Over the last weeks, also communal politicians from Essen, Dortmund and Mülheim spoke out
during public meetings against the investment plans of RWE in Belene.

Urgewald and other environmental organisations demand RWE to withdraw directly from
planned nuclear power projects in seismic active areas in Bulgaria and Romania. "Nuclear
power stations have no place in earthquake zones. An increasing amount of shareholders of
RWE also see it that way," Schücking said.
(source: urgewald.de, translation by Jan Haverkamp distributed by no-nukes-eur@lists.foei.org)

Short report abouth the earthquake how it was felt in Bulgaria:

2005: Consequences of the closure of Kozluduy 3/4

The scheduled closure of the third and fourth units of Kozloduy will lead to a loss of 735 million Euro for Bulgaria's energy sector, according to a January 2006 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The report was done at the request of Bulgaria's Cabinet. Bulgaria will also have to stop electricity exports, increasing the loss to 935 million Euro. Bulgaria ranked fourth in Europe in electricity exports in 2005, after France, the Czech Republic and Poland. The country sold 7.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity abroad, which was 30% higher than the amount for 2004. An additional 26.7 billion kilowatt-hours were produced for domestic consumption. In 2005 electricity consumption inside the country increased by 2.7 per cent. Because of economic growth, companies used 5.8 per cent more electricity. At the same time, households decreased their consumption because of rising prices.

2002: Adoption of the new Safe Use of Nuclear Energy Act

In June 2002 the Bulgarian Parliament has adopted the new Safe Use of Nuclear Energy Act. The Act is in compliance with international conventions and was signed by the Republic of Bulgaria, the EC Directives and the IAEA Safety Standards. By this Act a new licensing procedure was established: Any nuclear activity has to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, licenses are issued for a validity up to 10 years, and license renewal is preceded by a Periodic Safety Review.

Electricity generation in Bulgaria

Energy mix

Bulgaria has rather limited local energy resources and imports almost all of the petroleum and gas needed. The hydro power potential is insufficiently used. The country has significant but low-grade coal reserves, mainly lignite with a heating value of only 1,200 - 1,500 kcal/kg and high sulphur content.

Sites With Nuclear Facilities

siteplantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
BeleneBelene-1WWER 100020042012
KozloduyKozloduy-1WWER 440 V230197019742002
Kozloduy-2WWER 440 V230197019752002
Kozloduy-3WWER 440 V230197319802006
Kozloduy-4WWER 440 V230197319822006
Kozloduy-5WWER 100019801987
Kozloduy-6WWER 100019841991