The expansion in Paks is no longer about paperwork, but rather about real construction, according to the announcement of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó on Tuesday in Paks.
During a joint press conference with Alexey Likhachev, the head of the Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom, the minister welcomed the start of the construction of new reactors in Paks. He pointed out that
the expansion is currently the largest nuclear project on the continent with a construction permit.
Moreover, it involves true international cooperation, as in addition to the Russian main contractor, several US, German, French, Swedish, Austrian, and already 94 Hungarian companies are also involved.
He informed that excavation has been completed to a depth of five metres under both planned blocks, and the next goal is to reach a depth of 23 metres. Additionally, he stated that the foundation works are progressing well, with the German-US company working on it currently at 77 per cent. Ground stabilization work has also begun, and sixty buildings will be erected in the next six months. ‘We have signed the schedule for the coming years today, and based on this, I can tell you that in the early years of the next decade, we will be able to connect the new nuclear power plant to the grid,’ he declared.
He also touched upon the fact that as a result of the investment, Hungary will continue to be among the twenty countries in the world that, alongside reducing their emissions, increase their economic performance. The new blocks will replace the emission of 17 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, three times more than the Hungarian forests can absorb each year. The minister emphasized that the recent crisis in European energy supply is largely due to the excessive politicization and ideologization of the issue, while it is a matter of physical reality.
‘For us, the issue of energy supply is neither a political nor an ideological matter,
and mainly not because economic performance and our environment cannot be protected with political statements or ideologies,’ he warned.
He highlighted that it is the government’s duty to ensure the country’s energy supply. ‘Therefore, it is important for us to increase our independence, that is, to reduce our vulnerability to international energy markets, to protect the results of reducing utility costs and our environment,’ he underlined. In this regard, he stressed that nuclear energy is the only way to produce electricity in large quantities, safely, cheaply, and sustainably. ‘The security of Hungary’s energy supply is a national interest. And national interest dictates that we must increase our nuclear energy capacity, and this can only be done by building new nuclear power plant blocks,’ he stated.
Szijjártó reported that the European Union is divided into two parts on the issue of nuclear energy, and Hungary is a member of the group led by France that supports it.
‘It is clear that attacks against nuclear energy have no factual basis;
they are solely based on ideology,’ he opined. ‘That is why we have made it clear that we will not contribute to any sanctions that would affect the field of nuclear energy,’ he added. He also pointed out that the twelfth sanctions package being prepared against Russia does not contain such proposals, but regardless of the specific proposal, Hungary will never agree to punitive measures affecting the nuclear industry.
Alexey Likhachev confirmed that there is no alternative to nuclear energy; it is currently the most stable, predictable, and environmentally friendly energy source. He stated that
Rosatom is dedicating its best experts to the Paks expansion,
to comply with the strict requirements and the special attention of European regulators.
‘We are well aware that the international environment does not look favourably on Rosatom, but we are ready to implement this project to the fullest despite external pressure,’ he emphasized. He pointed out the international nature of the project and announced that the number of participating foreign companies will only increase. The CEO emphasized that the handover is expected in the early 2030s, and by then, not only will the two new blocks and workforce training be completed, but the fuel supply will also be ensured.
‘We are ready to participate in any project aimed at realizing the future of nuclear energy with our Hungarian partners. We are facing a big project, but we have already come a long way, a journey during which we have gotten to know each other better, our friendship has strengthened, and we can collaborate better with each other,’ he added.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/MTI