(Adds detail on Hungary nuclear plans)
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, Sept 16 Hungary expects European Union
clearance to build two Russian nuclear reactors at its Paks
nuclear site in the coming weeks, a senior Hungarian government
official said on Friday.
Last year, EU regulators started legal action against
Hungary over a contract it awarded to Russia's Rosatom to expand
the Paks nuclear power plant.
Attila Aszodi, government commissioner for the Paks nuclear
power plant in the prime minister's office, told Reuters at the
World Nuclear Association conference in London that Hungary
expected two separate decisions on the procurement and state-aid
aspects of the deal.
"Naturally, we assume a positive decision," he said, adding
European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic had already
indicated negotiations were going well and were close to
Hungary plans to build two Russian VVER 1200 reactors for a
total budget of 12.5 billion euros ($13.9 billion), of which 80
percent will be financed by Russia and 20 percent by Hungary.
The project is fully owned by the Hungarian state.
Hungary plans to start building the reactors in 2018 and
aims to complete the first one in 2025, and the second in 2026.
Paks currently has four small Russian-built VVER 440
reactors with a combined capacity of about 2,000 megawatts
(MW)that account for 36 percent of Hungary's power consumption.
These were built between 1982 and 1987 and will be retired
between 2023 and 2037, Aszodi said.
That means that for a few years Hungary will have six
nuclear reactors in operation, but he said there would be no
overcapacity as the country already imports about a third of its
power from abroad.
He said the ultimate aim was to keep the contribution of
nuclear in Hungary's power mix at just under 40 percent.
Hungary has total installed power generation capacity of
just under 9,000 MW, of which half will be retired by 2030 as
these are highly polluting fossil-fuel based plants.
Aszodi said Hungary's grid operator estimated the country
needed 7,000 MW of new generating capacity by 2030.
($1 = 0.8965 euros)
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Mark Potter)