Despite the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine as well as the recent imposition of economic sanctions by the European Union (EU) against Russia, the Hungarian government is set to move forward with plans for a new Russian-built power plant at its Paks II site.
Formally signed on Tuesday, April 11th, by Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijarto and Alexei Likhachev, chief executive of Russian nuclear firm Rosatom, this new agreement is the result of a prolonged string of negotiations regarding the original construction and financing contract for Paks II.
As of press time, however, neither party has disclosed the specific changes made to the agreement, only that these are pending the approval of the European Commission.
In a social media post following the signing of an amended agreement between Hungary and Russia, Szijarto said that his country needs to move forward with construction at Paks II in light of the EU’s admission that there will be no energy security let alone a transition to more sustainable energy in the continent without nuclear power.
The foreign minister added that the sooner the Paks II plant is built, the sooner Hungary will be shielded from the erratic price movements of the global energy market.
For their part, the Rosatom team stated that the involved parties discussed the next steps for the project, along with other possible cooperative initiatives within the regional nuclear field.
The official statement from Rosatom also stated that general construction is currently underway at the Paks II site, specifically for the construction of support structures and facilities. The process of getting the necessary licenses for some aspects of the work has begun as the primary license authorizing the construction of the Paks II nuclear power plant was issued by the Hungarian government in August of last year.
About the Paks II Initiative
The original intergovernmental agreement between Hungary and Russia was signed back in 2014 and involved the provision of two VVER-1200 reactors from Rosatom to the Hungarian government.
In July 2020, an application to build a second nuclear power site – Paks II – besides the current Paks nuclear power plant around 100 km southwest of Budapest, was formally submitted. The necessary process gave the Hungarian National Atomic Energy Office twelve months to make a decision.
In July 2021, the National Atomic Energy Office requested a three-month extension. The construction license was finally issued over a year later, in August 2022.