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25.11.2013 17:00
Bulgaria Mulls Building New Reactor with Westinghouse
General Electric was also and estimated candidate for two new thermal units at Maritsa East 2 TPP, energy minister Dragomir Stoinev stated during a visit to the U.S.

  • Bulgarian energy minister Dragomir Stoinev (second left) during a visit at the Westinghouse headquarters
    © Bulgarian Ministry of Economy and Energy

Following his visit to the U.S. last week, Bulgarian energy minister Dragomir Stoinev announced plans to commission a new nuclear unit to Westinghouse without organising a tender. Stoinev commented that the government will decide whether to grant permission to the state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) to start negotiating with Westinghouse, after he submits a detailed report about his visit in the United States.


Decision to be taken by end-2013

“I expect that the decision will be taken by the end of the year and that we will have the complete financial model and the final cost”, Stoinev stated after arriving at Sofia Airport from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 23.

Different methods of financing could be applied for such a project, Stoinev explained, elaborating that the Export-Import Bank of the United States stated its intent to participate in the financing of the new nuclear unit.

The construction of a new nuclear unit does not necessitate a tender and the European Union now allows this practice, minister Stoinev stated. He cited France, the United Kingdom and Finland, among others, as countries with nuclear stations built without tender.


A new AP 1000 for Bulgaria

If Bulgaria’s government decides to go with Westinghouse, an AP 1000 will be selected for the targeted construction site near the country’s only operating two 1000-megawatt units at Kozloduy nuclear station. Minister Stoinev explained that the decision about the technology was examined through the “prism of national interest”. Stoinev explained that he became convinced that AP 1000’s new technology was “the most safe, efficient and modern one” after his visit in Pittsburgh where he became acquainted with the technology’s advantages. Currently there are no commercially operating AP 1000s in the world. The technology is being used for several new nuclear units in China and Georgia, U.S. Westinghouse is currently the only company applying the new 3rd generations standard approved by the U.S. nuclear regulatory agency. 

Ivan Genov, CEO of Kozloduy NPP, who was part of the delegation to the U.S., also expressed his support for the AP 1000, calling it “the technology of the future”.

“The safety system of AP 1000 does need electricity supply in order to handle a design-basis accident. If the nuclear station at Fukushima had been equipped with such a system, it could have evaded the fatal outcome of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami”, Genov stated.


Other discussed reactors

Up until the current moment, the other two options discussed for the new reactor at Kozloduy were all based on the Russian VVER technology, notably the AES – 92 and AES – 2006. A reactor of the former type was commissioned to Russia’s Atomstroyexport for the now cancelled Belene nuclear station. Bulgaria’s government was also considering using this reactor on the site of Kozloduy – a task that could prove difficult. What is more, the buzz surrounding a possible Belene construction restart also makes this a less probable outcome.


General Electric to build two thermal units at state-owned power plant

The possible nuclear unit deal was not the only news for Bulgaria’s energy sector to stem from Stoinev’s visit to the U.S. Bulgaria’s energy minister also announced in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio that another U.S. energy major – General Electric, was considered for the construction of two new units at the state-owned Maritsa East 2 thermal station – the country’s biggest TPP. Marista East 2 currently has eight energy units with a total capacity of 1600 MW.

General Electric, along with U.K.’s Rolls-Royce, was also among the candidates for the now suspended procedure for selecting compressor station constructors for South Stream gas pipeline in Bulgaria. The tender should be re-launched soon due to pleas from candidates for longer application period.

TAGS: Bulgaria | U.S. | energy | USA | Westinghouse | AP1000 | General Electric | thermal power | Maritsa East 2 | nuclear power | Kozloduy | Belene | South Stream | Atomstroyexport | NPP | nuclear station 

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