SOFIA (Bulgaria), October 18 (SeeNews) – The European Commission will support Bulgaria if the country decides to complete the project to build a new nuclear power plant (NPP) in Belene, said Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, as Sofia prepares to negotiate with the European executive a deadline for the closure of polluting coal plants.
“We will stand by Bulgaria’s side and make sure it is a safe power station. But I hope – I say to each of the governments: make a sensible decision, check the numbers, see what the pluses and minuses, and make a decision we will support you in, ”Timmermans, head of the European Green Deal, told local bTV in an interview on Friday.
In January, local media Capital.bg reported that Bulgaria had not canceled a tender for the selection of a strategic investor in the Belene nuclear power plant project, which is expected to include two Russian-made units. of 1,000 MW each, despite a decision taken earlier in the month. explore options to instead use the existing plant equipment in a new unit at the existing Kozloduy nuclear power plant. Bulgaria shortlisted Russia’s Rosatom, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation (KHNP) in the tender for a strategic nuclear power plant investor last year. by Belene.
Timmermans stressed that there is no future in coal, adding that globally more and more countries believe in it and act on it.
“What we have to guarantee, however, is a better future for the people living in the areas where there are coal mines,” he said.
Timmermans also told bTV that he could not say whether the year 2040 was an acceptable target date for the phase-out of coal in power generation in Bulgaria until he saw the recovery and sustainability plan. of the country that the government submitted to the Commission on Friday.
“The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be for us,” noted Timmermans.
The Bulgarian interim government said on Wednesday that it will propose to the Commission the year 2038 as the deadline to shut down the country’s four coal-fired power plants which generate 39% of Bulgaria’s gross electricity consumption in 2019, with 2040 as an alternative deadline. .
Bulgaria’s only Kozloduy nuclear power plant has two Soviet-made 1,000 MW operating units. The plant produces electricity that meets more than a third of Bulgaria’s electricity needs, according to the plant’s website.