The construction of Belene Nuclear Power Plant would entail a doubling of the price of electricity in Bulgaria and a number of serious risks

The construction of Belene Nuclear Power Plant would entail a doubling of the price of electricity in Bulgaria and a number of serious risks

We in Democratic Bulgaria strongly oppose any attempt to relaunch the Belene NPP project in any form, with the following considerations in mind:

As far ahead as 2040, the Belene NPP project will not be essential to this country and the region in terms of energy needs.

This is evident from the trends in the development of power generating facilities and energy consumption in this country, as well as all reports and analyses by authoritative institutions, including: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) Reports of 2010 and 2017 (Section IV Recommendations); EU Reference Scenario to 2050; Annual Reports of the Electricity System Operator (ESO), including the 2018 Report; Statements by power industry organizations of 2017 and 2018; a Declaration by 18 highly respected power industry professionals, ministers, MPs, and academics of March 2018, all of which clearly show that electric power consumption in this country is covered to the year 2040, with huge export potential. What the electric power system needs are not new basic facilities, but balancing and regulating ones. The idea to build Belene NPP with the participation of Balkan countries in order to supply other economies runs against national interests. As a simple reminder, it met with no support whatsoever and fell through in the period 2005-2012.

An unwarranted project involving huge initial costs

Global experience and authoritative Belene NPP analyses indicate that the initial costs of this unwarranted project are certain to amount to no less than BGN 21 billion. They would constitute an immediate and far-reaching threat to our economy and national security. This uncalled-for project cannot hope to receive “European funding”, as became only too clear over the period 2005-2012.

An unwarranted project that will generate very expensive electric power

Examples of similar projects in Europe and authoritative Belene NPP analyses suggest that the power generated by this uncalled-for project would cost no less than 10 Euro cents per kWh. At such cost of production, it will be uncompetitive and unmarketable, and would incur huge losses if the plant is completed. To make it saleable, a number of operating power stations would have to be closed, and the price of electricity in this country would have to doubled, which would amount to national treason.

An unwarranted project at a site of unacceptable seismic risk

The Belene site is located in an area of significant and unacceptable seismic risk. We still remember the earthquake on March, 1977, with a death toll of 120 in Svishtov, where apartment blocks, public buildings and houses collapsed. Because of the high seismic risk, in 1983, even the Russian side suggested foregoing this site. Should the plant be built, it will carry a risk of a major accident in the event of a devastating earthquake, the consequences of which we all witnessed in connection with the Fukushima NPP failure.

An unwarranted project entailing a number of other risks, and notably:

  • Emergence of a new/old generator of grand-scale theft and corruption;
  • Blocking the development of alternative methods of production, accumulation, and saving of electric power, the development of smart grids, raising energy efficiency, etc.;
  • Bringing into disrepute the agricultural output of the region;
  • Closing down operating power stations;
  • Creating a distorted and unwieldy electric power system;
  • Huge risk to the stability of the electric power system – thus for example, a strong earthquake would lead to automatic shutting down of the reactors in Kozloduy NPP and Belene NPP;
  • Would further complicate and inflate the cost of tackling the problem with the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and/or high-level waste as this must be done in the country of origin;
  • The involvement of a foreign investor, particularly one outside the European Union, would aggravate the above-outlined risks and entail additional ones.

Our demands:

We demand that the idea of building Belene NPP be renounced definitively and that the site be converted into an economic zone.

We demand that actions be devised to sell or invest the equipment already supplied and/or that the Belene steam generators (which make up nearly50% of the equipment already supplied) be used to replace the steam generators in the operational units of Kozloduy NPP.

We demand that the government focus on solving the real problems of the energy sector, on building gas connections with the neighboring countries, raising energy efficiency, decentralizing energy production, meeting spent nuclear fuel reprocessing targets, devising strategies for disposal of waste from spent nuclear fuel processing, etc.

We demand that accountability be exacted from those culpable for ordering the basic equipment for Belene NPP in the absence of an approved technical blueprint, without a contract, and without secured financing.