March 28 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's caretaker deputy energy minister Elenko Bozhkov said that the government will sign front-end engineering design (FEED) contracts with Westinghouse Electric Company and Electricite de France (EDF) for the potential construction of four new nuclear reactors, BTA state news agency reported on Tuesday.
Bulgaria is close to signing a FEED contract with Westinghouse Electric for two potential AP1000 reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant (NPP), with a similar contract to be concluded with EDF for the Belene site, BTA quoted Bozhkov as saying at a nuclear energy conference organised by the National Committee of Bulgaria to the World Energy Council (NCBWEC).
According to Bozhkov, EDF's executive director in charge of new nuclear engineering projects will visit Sofia in early April for bilateral talks. An inspection by EDF experts of the equipment and infrastructure existing at the site of the unfinished Belene NPP site is planned for later in April. EDF is expected to build two 1000 MW units at Belene, using the Russian equipment for VVER-1000 reactors, according to BTA.
EDF will be contracted to complete the construction of the units at Belene using conventional French technology. For that to happen, an intergovernmental contract will need to be signed between Bulgaria and France, similarly to the case with the U.S.
Before an intergovernmental agreement is signed with the U.S., it must be approved by the European Commission.
In order to take effect, both future agreements need to be ratified by Bulgaria's next parliament which is to be elected on April 2 for any construction work to start, the energy ministry noted in a separate statement.
Earlier this month, Westinghouse Electric and Kozloduy NPP agreed to explore the construction of two reactors at the plant, which currently operates two Russian-designed units of 1000 MW each. The first of the two units could go live in 2032, a Westinghouse official told SeeNews.
In January, BUlgaria's caretaker government put forward an energy plan foreseeing the construction of four new nuclear reactors to ensure sufficient power generation capabilities once the two operational reactors at Kozloduy NPP are decommissioned in 2027 and 2029, respectively.
Russia's Atomstroyexport has delivered equipment for the Belene NPP project, which was cancelled by the Bulgarian parliament in 2013.
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