Paks II Enters Key Stage
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#269September 2023

Paks II Enters Key Stage

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On August 18, Rosatom’s subsidiary and the general contractor for Paks II NPP, AtomStroyExport, and the project owner Paks II Nuclear Power Plant Ltd signed a series of documents required to continue the construction of two Generation III+ power units with VVER-1200 reactors. On August 21, AtomStroyExport commenced with the construction works of the principal project phase. 

The preparatory phase of the project ended with signing an addendum to the EPC contract and delivering a notice from the project owner to the general contractor that the project was moving towards the principal construction phase. Before that, on August 16, technical amendments to the intergovernmental project finance agreement came into force. According to Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, all the payments are being made and the project is not subject to any sanctions. Rosatom and the Hungarian project owner maintain contacts with Western companies. “I would like to stress there will be no European sanctions against the nuclear industry in the future, all the more so as it would be against our national interests. So, of course, we will keep at bay any such attempts,” the minister said with confidence. According to Peter Szijjártó, the amendments will move the project forward more quickly and easily.

As the project transitions to the key construction phase, orders can be placed for the main pieces of power-generating equipment. AtomStroyExport has instructed manufacturers to start production of the necessary equipment for which the contracts have already been concluded.

Preparations are now underway on the site to pour the first concrete for the foundation. The Hungarian company Duna Aszfalt Kft has started excavations on the site of Unit 6. The pit will first be excavated to a depth of 5 meters over an area comparable to four football fields. The same-depth pit has already been excavated for Unit 5.

Another local company, Bauer Magyarország Kft, is proceeding with the installation of a 1-meter-wide, 30-meter-deep impervious blanket. It is being built around the clock, with over 500 meters out of 2,500 meters already completed. The blanket will protect the site from groundwater infiltration during the construction and subsequent operation of the units. Simultaneously, Bauer Magyarország Kft is preparing to start soil stabilization works. Once the blanket is ready and the soil is stabilized, the pit for the two units will be sunk to a depth of 30 meters, with around 1 million cubic meters of soil to be removed. Preparations for the first concrete pouring at Unit 5 will begin next year.

As work at Paks II is gaining momentum, increasingly more employees, machinery and equipment are engaged in on-site operations. Many international companies are involved in the project. One of them is General Electric, which will, together with Alstom, manufacture power generation equipment. Instrumentation and control (I&C) systems will be supplied by a consortium of Siemens and Framatome.

Commenting on the Paks II transition to the new construction phase, Peter Szijjártó noted that the reliability of power supply was one of the most critical issues of the time and the countries able to produce most of the energy they consume would be strong and safe in the future. “More and more people are realizing that the issue of power supply is a material issue,” the minister said. He added that, given Hungary’s geographical and environmental conditions, a nuclear power plant would be capable of producing large amounts of electricity in a reliable, eco-friendly and cost-efficient way. “That is why the Paks II project is a long-term guarantee that Hungary will have a reliable source of power and that the nation will have enough affordable electricity,” the minister emphasized.

For reference

The Paks II Nuclear Power Plant is built in accordance with a Russia-Hungary intergovernmental agreement dated January 14, 2014 and three basic contracts. The construction license for two VVER-1200 reactor units to be built at Paks II was obtained in August 2022. The power units of this design will be built in the European Union for the first time ever. The fact of obtaining the construction license proves that the plant meets the Hungarian and European safety standards.  The service life of the reactor units is guaranteed to be 60 years. Hungary’s only nuclear power plant Paks operates four VVER-440 reactors. They generate over 50% of the country’s cheapest electricity at HUF 12 (RUB 3) per kilowatt hour.