Hungary could deploy its first small reactor power plant in 2030

While Hungary sees the large VVER nuclear power plant at the existing Paks site as a priority, at the same time Hungarian Energy Minister Csaba Lantos said in an interview with local media that Hungary may consider purchasing one or more small modular reactor power plants, but not earlier than 2029-2030.

Lantos told the media that the potential small reactor units should not be deployed at the existing Paks site in southern Hungary, but “where the energy demand is growing, maybe at a site in eastern Hungary, but other places are also being considered”. According to Lantos, smaller-scale small reactors could be deployed near rivers with low flows.

When asked if Hungary would consider Russian small reactor technology, he said, “We need to explore all options”.

The existing Paks nuclear power plant is Hungary’s only commercial nuclear power plant. Its four reactors provide around 48% of the country’s electricity.

Lantos said that the units are expected to reach their operational life between 2032 and 2037, but he “hopes” that all four units will be extended by 20 years, a decision that Lantos said cannot be political but should be technical.

The Paks expansion project, Paks 2, will see Russia supply two new Generation III VVER-1200 pressurised water reactor units at the Paks site, in a deal financed mainly by a Russian loan. The two new units were originally planned to be commissioned in the early 2030s, but actual construction work has not yet started.

In Central and Eastern Europe, Poland, Romania and Estonia are the most advanced, with plans to deploy US-built small reactor plants, while the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ukraine have announced official interest.

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