Country profile: Bulgaria
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: