Westinghouse, Bulgaria Plan Two New Nuclear Reactors

Kozloduy nuclear site in Bulgaria

(Credit: European Nuclear Society)

by | Oct 27, 2023

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Westinghouse Electric Company has signed an agreement with Bulgaria, planning to build two new nuclear reactors to increase clean energy capacity at its Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant.

The two reactors will provide 2.3 gigawatts of clean energy for Bulgaria. The first reactor is expected to be operational by 2033 with the second done two to three years later, according to an Associated Press report. Westinghouse will supply its AP1000 reactors for the project, reportedly the only Generation III+ reactor with fully passive safety systems, modular construction design, and the smallest footprint per MWe on the market.

The agreement outlines the potential for manufacturing key components, including instrumentation and control systems and radiation monitoring systems, along with providing engineering, consulting, and construction services.

Expansion Supplements Existing Nuclear Capacity in Bulgaria, Energy Security

According to a report from Bulgarian news outlet, BTA news, construction of the first unit will cost about $10.5 billion. Energy experts from the country told the news source that it is crucial for Bulgaria to have an independent energy facility that does not rely on solar or wind power for the period of time when coal-powered plants are shut down.

Westinghouse has provided engineering services for the existing nuclear modules at the Kozloduy site, which currently generates about a third of the country’s energy.

“We continue to make excellent progress on the front-end engineering and design study for up to two AP1000 reactors at the Kozloduy site,” said David Durham, president of energy systems at Westinghouse. “The Bulgarian nuclear supply chain is deeply experienced and will be critical in supporting our successful delivery of the world’s most advanced, proven AP1000 reactor for our customer.”

Increased Nuclear Power for Net-Zero Goals, Concern Over Large-Scale Projects

Westinghouse said it has supplied more than half of the nuclear-supplied base worldwide, contributing to the need for nuclear power to double by 2050 to meet international emissions goals. Nuclear energy currently produces about half of the world’s carbon-free energy, according to the Department of Energy.

Large-scale nuclear energy projects are often accompanied by some level of skepticism, namely for the cost and time involved in building nuclear plants. Georgia Power — a United States utility that uses Westinghouse reactors at the Vogtle nuclear plant — recently faced a $413 million lawsuit over the cost overruns associated with its third and fourth nuclear reactors that are currently being built or in operation.

According to BTE, some concerns have surrounded the Kozloduy expansion plans as well.

Nonetheless, nuclear energy production is considered to be the most reliable energy source, according to the DOE. Many countries aim to use nuclear energy for domestic energy security — Bulgaria has worked to stop its energy dependence on Russia, especially since its invasion of Ukraine.

Bulgaria Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said the new nuclear reactors may further provide stable management of the country’s energy system.

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