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Bulgaria completes upgrade to extend life of Kozloduy nuclear reactor by 30 years

27 October 2016

The Bulgarian energy ministry said on October 25 an upgrade of one of the Soviet-era reactors at the country's only nuclear plant had been completed, extending its lifespan to 2047. The Kozloduy plant, by the river Danube on the border with Romania, has two 1,000 megawatt reactors that produce about 33% of Bulgaria's electricity. The country launched a 360 million euro ($391 million) upgrade of the reactors last year.

Kozloduy NPP - Image: BGNES
Kozloduy NPP - Image: BGNES

Nuclear power is cheaper than some of the country’s other energy sources and electricity prices are politically sensitive in Bulgaria as power bills represent a large part of monthly incomes.

Protests over high energy bills toppled the previous centre-right government of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov in 2013.

The current Bulgarian government hired a consortium led by subsidiaries of Russia's Rosatom, Rosenergoatom and Rusatom Service, and France's EDF last year to carry out the upgrades for the Unit 5 reactor to ensure it can operate safely for another three decades.

That reactor’s operating licence is due to expire this month but the country’s energy regulator is expected to renew it after the required security checks.

The Unit 6 reactor's licence runs until October 2019, and this is also being upgraded by Rusatom Service.

The Kozloduy site is home to the two operational Russian-designed VVER-1000 pressurised water reactors, Units 5 and 6, as well as four closed VVER-440s.

Bulgaria also committed itself to fast-tracking payment of the debt it incurred to Russian companies for scrapping the Belene nuclear power plant project, after a ruling by the Geneva-based International Court of Arbitration. The country will pay €620 million ($677 million) out of an original  Russian claim of €1.2 billion for costs and damages.

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