Issue No.11 Winter
(January 2006)


ENS News

Frank Deconick: A profile of the new man at the ENS helm

Tapping unusual quarters

ENS Events

Etrap 2005

PIME 2006

RRFM 2006

ENA 2006

Member Societies & Corporate Members

Modernizing Romanian Nuclear Education and Traning Systems

In Memoriam: Professor Carlo Salvetti (1919 – 2005)

European nuclear community mourns loss of Armen Abagyan

European Institutions

Changes in DG TREN + DG RTD

Austrian Presidency reveals its energy policy

ENS World News

COP 11 & COP/MOP 1

Country profile: Bulgaria

NucNet News

ENS Members

Links to ENS Member Societies

Links to ENS Corporate Members

Editorial staff

RRFM 2006RRFM 2006

RRFM 2006
30 April - 3 May 2006 in Sofia, Bulgaria


















































































Country profile: Bulgaria

Executive Summary:

Although Bulgaria has very few energy resources of its own and imports almost all its oil and gas (90%), the country is the leading energy provider in the region. The main energy sources used to produce electricity are coal and nuclear energy. The country covers 60% of the power deficit in South East Europe. Units 3 and 4 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant (NPP) must be shut down at the beginning of 2007 as a precondition to joining the European Union, although they have been modernised and are now as safe as any Western-type NPP. Units 1 and 2 were closed at the end of 2002 and a modernization plan is being implemented for units 5 and 6. The safety level of Kozloduy NPP has been recognized as satisfactory by the European Parliament (EP). The EP has also expressed its concern that the premature closure of units 3 and 4 could threaten energy security of supply in South East Europe. Bulgaria operates only one NPP, but is planning to build a 2000-megawatt unit in Belene by 2011. According to Bulgaria’s Energy Strategy, the building of a new NPP is mandatory to maintain the country’s energy balance and to ensure security of supply in South East Europe after the closure of Kozloduy’s units 3 and 4. The EU safety assessment studies conducted there were declared satisfactory. Moreover, nuclear power in Bulgaria helps the country meet the targets of the Kyoto protocol, which it ratified in 2002. Public opinion strongly supports nuclear energy. 90% of the Bulgarians insist that the government should renegotiate the closure of Kozloduy NPP units 3 and 4 and 70% back the project to build a second NPP in Belene.

Security of supply:

Bulgaria has very few energy resources. Proven oil and gas reserves for the country have declined for a number of years and are only about 5 million tons of oil equivalents; in other words, less than 6 months of normal hydrocarbon consumption in Bulgaria. Hydro capacity accounts for about 23.4% of the country’s total installed generating capacity. The country has significant but very low-grade coal reserves. They amount to about 2.2 billion tons - mainly lignite. Bulgaria imports almost all its oil and gas (90%) since its domestic production is negligible. The main energy sources used to produce electricity are coal and nuclear energy. The nuclear share of total electricity generated in 2004 was 41%.

Bulgaria is the leading energy provider in the Balkan region. The country covers 60% of the power deficit in southeast Europe and exported around 5.8 billion Kwh of electricity in 2004. In 2005, exports are expected to be close to 7 billion kwh, according to the chief engineer of Bulgaria’s monopoly power exporter, NETC. In December 2003, Bulgaria signed the Athens Memorandum, which seeks to create regional electricity and gas markets in southeast Europe on the basis of the principles of the internal energy market. Partner countries are currently developing this Memorandum in order to facilitate the setting up of a legally-binding Energy Community in southeast Europe. Except for Turkey, all the other countries in the Balkan region will sign it. It is likely to strengthen Bulgaria’s position as an “energy leader” in the region. Two agreements on building power lines between Bulgaria and Macedonia were signed in November 2003. In December 2003, a power line linking Bulgaria and Turkey was commissioned and interconnection with Albania and Greece is under development.


Bulgaria operates the Kozloduy nuclear power plant (NPP). The country is required to shut down Kozloduy‘s units 3 and 4 as a precondition for entering the EU. Therefore, these units will not be operated until the end of their designated lifetime, which is 30 years. The closure of the units is a precondition to Bulgaria’s accession. Units 1 and 2 were closed at the end of 2002. EU financial assistance in support of the decommissioning efforts under the Special Phare Programme amounts to €550 million for the period 2000-2009. The Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund (KIDSF), managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), is the main channel for assistance granted under the Special Phare Programme. The premature closure of units 3 and 4 could have the following negative consequences:

  • Economic impact: Bulgaria has invested a large amount of money in the modernisation of these units. They are now as safe as any Western-type NPP. That investment would be wasted. Early decommissioning will prevent the accumulation of adequate decommissioning and radioactive waste (RAW) management funds. Meanwhile, units 5 and 6 will have to bear a heavy economic burden in the near future – the cost of the Modernisation Program for these units and the cost of the future decommissioning of units 1-4. There are several assessments of the cost of decommissioning units 1-4. According to the IAEA’s Integrated Comparative Economic Assessment, it will cost at least € 868.8 million between 2007 and 2013; and according to a Bulgarian independent assessment, the losses due to the early closure of units 1-4 will amount to more than € 8 billion.

  • Impact on the security of supply in southeast Europe: In April 2005, the European Parliament (EP) adopted the van Orden report1, in which the EP congratulated Bulgaria for the steps it had taken to ensure a high level of safety at the Kozloduy NPP. At the same time, the EP expressed its concern that once units 3 and 4 at Kozloduy shut down at the end of 2006 a general decrease in the region’s generating capacity is likely to occur by 2010-2012.

  • Social impact: Kozloduy NPP employs over 5500 people in a region where the unemployment rate is high. The premature closure will result in increased unemployment and increased social security expenditure.

  • Environmental impact: Kozloduy NPP’s units 3 and 4 generate around 12% of Bulgaria’s total electricity production. To replace the energy produced by the units, more coal will have to be burnt in thermal power plants, which will increase the emissions of greenhouse gases. It will be more difficult for Bulgaria to meet its Kyoto requirements.

  • Economic consequences for EU countries: If the closure of Kozloduy’s units 3 and 4 is postponed until the new NPP in Belene enters into operation, the financial help granted by the EU for the early decommissioning of units 3 and 4 will be saved. Meanwhile, Bulgaria will be able to accumulate the necessary funds needed to manage radioactive waste and spend fuel treatment.


The first two units, which are typical WWER 440/230 models, were built and entered into service in 1970s. The second pair of reactors was completed and connected to the grid in 1980 and 1982 respectively. By then the 230 model had evolved into the 213 model. This is why units 3 and 4 incorporate many of the safety characteristics of the 213’s. Between 1991 and 2002, Bulgaria invested $ 311 million in the modernisation of these four units. To comply with the pre-accession requirements, Bulgaria limited the modernisation of units 1 and 2.They then shut down in December 2002. Units 3 and 4 have been regularly modernised and have now reached an acceptable safety level. They have been reclassified as being comparable to the more advanced B-230M model.

A further increase in the demand of electricity resulted in the construction of two additional 1000MW units - each one was a WWER-1000/320 model. The most recently built units, 5 and 6, are the most advanced types of soviet reactor and are being upgraded. A Modernization Programme is being implemented. The main objective of the Modernization Programme of units 5 and 6 is to implement the improvements that are needed to meet all international requirements with regards to safety and reliability. Meeting these requirements will lead to a lifetime extension of 15 years. The Modernization Programme is expected to be completed by the end of 2006.

The National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for the safe use of nuclear energy is the competent safety authority in Bulgaria. In 2003, the NRA issued licences to Kozloduy NPP based on the results of the new safety analysis report on the operation of units 3 and 4, which covers 8-year and a10-year periods respectively. Over 80 independent reports have assessed positively the safety level of units 3 and 4.

In 2002, the IAEA concluded that “the operational, seismic and design safety at Kozloduy corresponds to the level of improvements seen at other plants of similar vintage elsewhere.” Bulgaria has continued to implement the recommendations contained in the June 2001 Council Report on Nuclear Safety within the context of enlargement. A Peer Review Expert mission was carried out in November 2003 under the auspices of the Council. It concluded that all the necessary recommendations had already been implemented and that further supervision of these units was not necessary.

New Build

Bulgaria plans to build a 2000 megawatt NPP in Belene and launched a call for tender for its construction on 10 May 2005 . It is estimated that he Belene project will cost between €2.5 billion and €4 billion. It is Bulgaria’s largest development project for 20 years. The first unit of the new plant should begin operating in 2011, with a second reactor starting up in 2013. Construction of the Belene facility began in 1987 but was suspended in 1991 following pressure from environmental groups. The state will retain 51% of the Belene power station. Other states from the region that will be using the power produced in Bulgaria's second NPP may play a part in the construction project through the involvement of public-private partnerships, president Georgi Parvanov said at a nuclear conference organised by Bulatom on 15 June 2005, in Varna. The new plant will generate power for domestic consumption and secure the country’s position as a regional power exporter.

Waste management

A state-owned radioactive waste management company was created in February 2004, following the requirements of the Law on the Safe Use of Nuclear Energy, which came into force in July 2002. The company is responsible for setting up a radioactive waste management strategy and for the collection, transport, treatment and conditioning, storage and disposal of radioactive waste. The spent fuel (SF) removed from the reactors is stored in pools situated close to the reactors and the low and intermediate level radioactive waste is stored in auxiliary buildings.

In 1990, the construction of a pool type spent fuel storage facility (SFSF) on the site of Kozloduy NPP was finished. Meanwhile, Bulgaria is still returning spent fuel from units 1 to 4 that had been reprocessed in Russia based on a commercial contract. After 3-5 years storage in the near reactor pools, the SF is transported to the SFSF. The construction of the treatment and storage facility for long-lived radioactive waste at the Kozloduy NPP has been completed and is now in operation. Westinghouse delivered the main equipment and technology. The first funds allocated by the EU and the EBRD are partly destined for the decommissioning of units 1 and 2 (€67 million out of €100 million). Eight contracts have already been signed. The main one is with RWE NUKUM contract for the construction of dry storage facilities for spent fuel at Kozloduy NPP.

Climate Change

In 2002, Bulgaria ratified the Kyoto protocol. The Kozloduy NPP does not emit any greenhouse gases and therefore contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Annual electricity production from the nuclear power plant has contributed to the avoidance of the emission of more than 29 million tons of the harmful carbon dioxide that causes climate change. In June 2002, Kozloduy NPP was rewarded by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Environment and Water for the significant contribution it has made to the protection of environment and natural resources. The closure of Kozloduy’s units 3 and 4 in 2007 will increase Bulgaria’s CO2 emissions, since thermal power plants will have to be build to compensate for the loss of power. In order to meet the Kyoto requirements, the government proposed to extend the lifetime of Kozloduy NPP until 2011, by which time the construction of the Belene NPP will have been completed.

Public Opinion

The Bulgarian public largely supports nuclear energy, as an opinion poll held from 17 to 24 April 2005 shows. The poll asked the question whether the closure of Kozloduy units 3 and 4 should be re-negotiated. Over 500 000 Bulgarians took part in the poll and some 90% insisted that the government reconsider the closure of the two units in order to avoid an energy price rise. Nearly 70% of Bulgarians back the project to build a second NPP in Belene. The government promised to renegotiate the closure of units 3 and 4 in 2007 based on preliminary individual discussions with all the EU members.

1You can have access to the van Orden report at: link

2 You can have access to official reports concerning Bulgaria’s Nuclear Energy Policy on the website of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources:

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