News & Analysis

Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant to function until 2051

Unit Six of Bulgaria’s only operational nuclear power plant at Kozloduy will function until 2051. Rosatom, a Russian state nuclear energy company, has signed a contract with representatives of the power plant which will extend the operational life of the communist-era reactor.

Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is located next to the river Danube on the border with Romania and has two 1000 megawatt reactors that produce approximately a third of Bulgaria’s electricity.

Over the past two years, the NPP has been under inspection to ensure its safe operability and it was concluded that the sixth reactor can be exploited for a further 30 years than was previously stated. Bulgaria’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency is expected to grant a 10-year extension of the operating licence of Unit Six, due to expire in 2019. Back in 2016, Kozloduy NPP signed a contract with a consortium that included Rosatom Service (the service arm of Rosatom), Rosenergoatom (the Russian nuclear power station operations subsidiary of Atomenergoprom) and Risk Engineering (a Bulgarian energy company), in order to extend the licence of Unit Six.

The upgrade to a second reactor in the plant, Unit Five, was completed in 2016 and the energy ministry has stated that the upgrade would keep the reactor working for 30 more years. The programmes for upgrading and extending the operational duration of Units Five and Six was launched in 2015 and cost a total of 360 million euros, to be financed by the plant itself.

Kirill Komarov of Rosatom praised the ongoing cooperation between Russia and Bulgaria in energy project. However, he once again reiterated that investors in nuclear energy only go ahead with at least some form of government guarantee.

Electricity prices undoubtedly remain a sensitive issue, as energy bills account for a large part of household spending, especially during the winter. Protests against high energy bills led to the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his cabinet in 2013.