Rosatom, the state-owned atomic energy corporation of Russia, has obtained approval to proceed with the construction of two reactors for the Paks-2 nuclear power plant in Hungary. The agreement was signed between Rosatom and Hungarian officials, marking the transition to the direct construction phase of the project. Alexander Merten, a representative from Rosatom, expressed his excitement about starting the production of the main power equipment following the signing of the deal. The Paks-2 project holds significant importance for Hungary and neighboring countries in the European Union (EU). Gergely Gulyas, the head of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s office, emphasized the crucial role of the project in meeting Hungary’s energy needs and increasing the country’s energy independence. Construction is expected to commence in the spring of 2024.
Located around 100 kilometers from Budapest, the Paks power station currently operates four VVR-440 reactors of Soviet design, generating approximately half of Hungary’s electricity. The addition of two newer VVR-1200 reactors will effectively double the plant’s capacity. This expansion has long been a goal of Orban’s government, aiming to strengthen Hungary’s energy security. With the new reactors, the country will be able to produce more electricity domestically, reducing its reliance on imports.
The agreement between Rosatom and Hungarian officials marks a significant milestone for the Paks-2 project. The initial deal was made in 2014, but obtaining the necessary permits from the EU took several years. In May, the European Commission finally approved changes to the contract and financing, paving the way for construction to begin. The original contract entailed a state loan of €10 billion from Russia to cover most of the estimated €12.5 billion cost of the project.
The Paks-2 project has influenced Hungary’s stance on EU nuclear sanctions against Russia. Hungary has vetoed any possibility of such sanctions due to the importance of the project to its energy needs. Despite tensions between Russia and other EU member states over the conflict in Ukraine, the involvement of Western companies in the project has helped to alleviate concerns. General Electric will supply the turbine generator equipment, French company Framatome and German company Siemens will provide the automatic process control system (APCS), and the construction work will involve Hungarian, German, and other contractors, according to Rosatom.
Preparatory work for the project has already begun, focusing on the construction of auxiliary buildings, warehouses, and office spaces. This signifies the active progression towards the actual construction of the reactors. The Paks-2 project is set to contribute significantly to Hungary’s energy infrastructure and enhance its energy independence. The increased capacity of the power plant will meet the country’s growing electricity demand and reduce its reliance on imported energy.