Bogomil Manchev: By 2030 the Belene NPP should start operating and the construction of Units 7 and 8 on the site at Kozloduy NPP should start

Interview of Bogomil Manchev, nuclear expert and Bulatom Chairman for Energetika magazine (re-printed by 3e-news)

Energy / Bulgaria
3E news
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At the beginning of the conversation Bogomil Manchev outlined the energy sources that are used to cover energy consumption in our country. When we talk about energy, a balance must be made between how much energy the state spends in general, no matter what kind it is. We burn 3 billion cubic meters of gas in thermal power plants and in industry. There is 10.5 million MWh of energy in 1 billion cubic meters of gas. Ie in these 3 billion cubic meters of gas we have about 33 million MWh of energy. The oil refinery in Burgas processes between 4 and 5 million tons of oil, and 1 ton of oil contains about 11 MWh. So there are still about 45 million MWh. As a fuel in the country we have the 20 million MWh of thermal power plants. 18 million MWh of coal, 15 million MWh of clean energy from nuclear power plants, 5 million MWh of water, wind and sun. In the annual balance we have: 1.5 million MWh from sun, 1.5 million MWh from wind and a little over 2 million MWh from water. In Bulgaria, the issue of the purity of the energy we consume must first be resolved, as our country is electrically oriented.

Our neighbors - Greece and Romania have decided to close their thermal power plants in 2025. Then what will happen in our country? We need to find a source that will replace this energy with another type of energy, but clean and available 24 hours a day.

What is the alternative to coal-fired power plants in Bulgaria?

We have a single clean source of basic energy - this is the nuclear one, and a single project - the Belene NPP project, which is ready and can start the construction of the plant. But the state must be 100% owner of the project and decide which companies will be admitted as strategic suppliers. One must be General Electric, the other Framatom, the third must be Westinghouse. Experts to decide how best to combine Eastern and Western technology, and find the means to start building the plant. A report on the renotification of the Belene project must be sent, as the nuclear installation is not changed, and this is the main thing that is notified in Europe. Our project has already been notified. The nuclear installation, which will be built with a specific fuel, shows what emissions will be in the environment. Therefore, its EIA is valid because the installation has not been changed, but only the investor has been changed.

For me, the best option is for this plant to be 100% state-owned. Whether in the face of BEH or in the face of a new company, but it cannot be Kozloduy NPP, because in the sense of European policies no state aid is allowed. The profit of Kozloduy NPP cannot be invested in Belene NPP because this profit is a dividend of the state, which is considered state aid. For example, Hungary implemented European law to build a nuclear power plant. The same is proposed to happen in Bulgaria. It takes at least 5 years for the state to receive a real working plant with achieved operating parameters under the project of the nuclear installations that stand on the site in Belene. By 2030, the first 2 units of Belene NPP should be operational and the construction of two new units on the site at Kozloduy NPP should begin.

About the role of politics in making extremely expert decisions

I want to think from the point of view of our country. We are a small country, and our politicians must boldly stand up against the big politics called the United States or Russia and explain that we are not a springboard. We need to find a solution, whether we take nuclear energy from the United States or from Russia, just that energy must be affordable and cost-effective. We are not a country that has infinite resources. Through the modernization of Units 5 and 6, we have shown that technologies from the West and the East can be combined and a wonderful solution can be obtained. We suggest this to happen in Belene as well. We bought nuclear installations from Russia. We can make a machine room from General Electric, the fuel can be from Westinghouse, but after certain years. No manufacturer will guarantee the achievement of the design parameters of its installation if the original fuel for the installation is not used.

Bogomil Manchev also announces the construction of Units 7 and 8 on the site of Kozloduy NPP

It is a mistake to make a project for Unit 1 at Kozloduy NPP. A project for two new units at the Kozloduy NPP site needs to be developed. The fifth unit of the plant can operate until 2047, the sixth unit until - 2051. This means that by 2035 the construction of the new 2 units on the site in Kozloduy should begin. There is a European directive and a law that is clear - where there is a nuclear site - only nuclear power plants can be built on it. We have 2 sites approved for nuclear power plants - Kozloduy and Belene. They think that if we go to do Belene, we will leave Kozloduy. No, we have to develop Kozloduy NPP. These are complementary projects over time. As much as we want to fill our energy mix with solar power and wind, we can't do it. Bulgaria on the wind map has zero potential, even if security is guaranteed with many renewable energy parks.

We also comment on the issue of the price of electricity from the Belene NPP in view of the liberalization of the electricity markets, where only the market logic is decisive

Today's price of basic energy is 70 euros per MWh. The price of the basic electricity on the stock exchange on the day of the interview. The protective price of electricity to pay off the investment for 12 years at Belene NPP is 60 euros. And the cost is 27 euros, including 1.5 euros to be contributed to decommissioning funds. The price of electricity from Belene NPP will be the same as for all other sources, due to the fact that these capacities can operate for 8000 hours in base mode, due to the fact that they can fill the peak consumption in the day. Belene NPP will sell the produced electricity on a free market and its price will be market.

On the problem of staffing nuclear energy

If we start developing the Belene NPP project, we will start training operators for the new plant, because the so-called block shields and the automation of the new plants are very different from those of Kozloduy NPP. The technology of the pressurized water reactor is the same in France, the United States and South Korea, but the new and different way of management is due to the new digitalization and automation. One of the rules for nuclear safety is that the processes in a nuclear power plant cannot be 100% automated. There must be an opportunity for operator intervention and reaction.

For the safety of nuclear power plants

The Belene NPP project has passed a stress test and was presented to the IAEA. So far no one has exceeded his level of safety, incl. and Russia's new projects, which are for 1,200 MW each.

The conversation continues with the topic of the development of hydrogen energy

Large installations for the production of hydrogen from water can be built on the sites of nuclear power plants. To operate the plant on a basic basis, the low cost of its energy will give a low cost of hydrogen as an energy source. The electrolysis of 1.2 kW of electricity produces 1 kW of hydrogen. If the western power plants of both Kozloduy NPP and Belene NPP are allowed to build hydrogen production plants, they will be ancillary to these plants. There is a conflict with so-called safety, however, because hydrogen will be stored at a pressure of 1,000 atmospheres. Therefore, infrastructure needs to be built so that the hydrogen produced by nuclear power plants can be transported and stored remotely. Much of the energy of these nuclear power plants will be converted into hydrogen, which will replace fossil fuels.

Can the existing gas infrastructure be used to transport hydrogen?

Up to 15% of hydrogen can be transported together with natural gas. Ie to 3 billion cubic meters. gas we consume, we can add500 million cubic meters of hydrogen. It is not in vain that the Benelux has begun to think about how to build a new piping system with appropriate compressors to transport hydrogen produced from large energy sources to power metallurgy and large-scale production. As with us, this must happen in the glass industry. In order for the energy to be relatively clean, the fuel must be changed - natural gas can be replaced with hydrogen.

In heavy chemistry, however, you cannot produce nitrogen fertilizer without gas because it is made from gas. However, there will be something left to broadcast and we have to pay for it. Appropriate hydrogen transport infrastructure needs to be built throughout the country. We have only 15 years for hydrogen, because 2035 is the deadline for shutting down coal-fired power plants. The penalty for each tonne of CO2 emissions is 100 euros.

If we burn coal to produce energy, it will be very expensive and people will not be able to pay for it. Only after a maximum of 1 or 2 years, emissions will reach 50 euros per tonne. And you know that we emit 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide per 1 MW. How to sell this energy? Retraining of miners should also be considered.

We cannot leave these people on the street, because in the transition period the TPPs in the area of ​​Maritsa East will switch to gas. More than BGN 1.5 billion will have to be spent there to change the fuel base. And this process cannot happen in less than 3 to 5 years. We need to somehow find an option on how to deliver the huge amounts of gas to the Maritza East complex in order to change the coal-to-gas fuel system by 2030. The amount of gas that will have to be provided to them is between 3 and 5 billion cubic meters.

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