Russia’s Rosatom has completed an upgrade at one of the two operational 1,000-MW reactors at Bulgaria’s Kozlodui nuclear power plant (NPP).
Nuclear energy is one of the country’s most economical sources of electricity.
The Bulgarian government tapped a consortium of Rosatom and French utility EDF for the project. Rusatom Service, an arm of Rosatom, recently said technical work had been completed on Unit 5, allowing Bulgarian regulators to extend the reactor’s 10-year operational licence, which expires in October.
Rosatom is also working on the upgrade to Unit 6. Its licence expires in 2019. The Russian company has told international media that it is meeting all deadlines for the project.
Located 160 km north of Sofia, Kozlodui is Bulgaria’s sole NPP and produces nearly 40% of the country’s annual electricity output through its two 1,000-MW reactors.
Sofia closed four older reactors dating back to the 1970s because of safety concerns raised by the European Union.
Bulgaria wants to raise capacity at Kozlodui and extend the operational life of Units 5 and 6 by some 30 years. In August 2014, the government signed a deal with Westinghouse, the US-based nuclear arm of Japan’s Toshiba, to build a new, roughly US$5 billion reactor at the facility.
However, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said last year that the government could not afford to foot the bill for the project, and that it could only go forward if Westinghouse agreed to come in as an investor.
This week, Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova effectively reiterated this point, saying the state cannot afford to be involved as an investor because it is trying to keep public spending in check.
Under the terms of the original deal, Unit 7 was expected to launch by 2023.