March 8 (SeeNews) - A potential new unit using US company Westinghouse Electric's AP1000 technology at Bulgaria’s sole nuclear power plant (NPP) could start commercial operation in late 2032, provided that a final investment decision is taken in the first half of 2024 and the commissioning process keeps to a very tight schedule, a company official told SeeNews.
The possible use of any existing infrastructure at the Kozloduy plant that is compatible with the AP1000 technology could lower the overall final cost of the project, the company official, who declined to be named, told SeeNews on the sidelines of an energy conference in Sofia last week.
Kozloduy NPP operates two Russian-designed VVER-1000 reactors of 1000 MW each, Unit 5 and Unit 6. Their operational licences will expire in 2027 and 2029, respectively.
Westinghouse announced last week that it signed a memorandum of understanding with special project company Kozloduy NPP-Newbuild (KNPP–Newbuild) to do the groundwork for the potential construction of one or two AP1000 reactors at the plant.
“The next step is for a front end engineering design (FEED) contract to be executed, which would take around nine to ten months. The scope of the FEED contract covers early engineering works including an assessment of the existing infrastructure at the Kozloduy site that could be leveraged for the potential construction of new nuclear units with the AP1000 technology,” the official said.
Additional steps in the FEED scope include an evaluation of the local industry so as to identify to what extent Westinghouse could use or develop a local supply chain. In parallel, a detailed implementation schedule for the project must be put together before the company develops an indicative cost estimate.
“The main purpose of the FEED is to provide the stakeholders in Bulgaria with all the required details for them to make an objective final investment decision,” the official also said.
If such a decision is taken in the first half of 2024, the detailed design will need to obtain approval by the Bulgarian nuclear energy regulator and a construction permit, which could happen in the next two years. Construction would normally take five years, whereas the final commissioning of the plant takes about one year, according to the official.
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