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Paks II, what is Hungary up to?

Due to some technical and political aspects as well as information reveals, the Hungarian Paks-2 NPP has become one of the most discussed topics in the European media and European politics. Considering growing antinuclear movements in Europe and sustainability target to achive at least a 27% share of renewable energy consumption, nuclear has a little room for the futher development. At the same time Europe seeks to diversify the means and sources of energy even if so far it is pretty evident, either Europeans go for nuclear as a clean and relatively cheap source of energy to complement renewables or they have to return to fossil fuels which will result in additional carbon dioxode emission ( as in case of Germany, it is happening right now) . At the same time, Hungary took its own path and decided to extend the Paks NPP. How the new power unit will contribute to the energy balance of the country and what are the reasons for its construction? Here is the excerpt of what Dr. Zsuzsa Szentgyörgyi, an electrical engineer, a member of the Hungarian Engineering Academy told in her interview to Energate.

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“Nuclear power and the enlargement of the Paks nuclear power plant have become the topics of the election campaign, but the majority of the Hungarian population, unlike Germany, still supports nuclear energy and the preservation of the nuclear component in the energy balance of Hungary. The main difference in approaches to nuclear power in Hungary and Germany is due to the geographical and natural features of the two countries. In view of the lack of mountain rivers and the sea coast, Hungary does not have the opportunity to use hydropower  on a scale that allows for the provision of basic generation. Paks NPP produces more than half of the electricity produced in the country. Renewable sources can not replace nuclear energy, so the country's energy strategy is aimed at preserving in the long term nuclear energy in the country's energy mix. The new power units of the Paks-2 NPP can be guaranteed to provide half of the country's needs over a 60-year service life without carbon dioxide emissions. Nevertheless, Hungary's energy strategy implies also renewable energy sources. For instanse, the Hungarian state subsidizes solar generation.

The VVER-1200 type reactors of Paks-2 NPP belong to the most recent and modern generation III+ reactors. The evolutionary type of the VVER-1200 reactor has a number of proven safety systems. In addition to active security systems, there is a number of passive solutions. According to the Hungarian requirements, the reactor will have a double shell, a pool for storing spent fuel will be inside the container, which will provide better protection. In addition, there is a number of passive safety solutions that ensure the cooling of the power unit without human intervention, using the laws of physics. This type of power unit is equipped with a so-called trap melt, which provides protection from the meltdown of the reactor, even in unlike beyond design accidents. These solutions make this type of power unit the safest in the world, which meets all post-Fukushima security requirements. The block is protected from strong earthquakes, the fall of a heavy aircraft, hurricane winds, floods and tsunamis.

Security guarantees meet the most stringent international requirements. The nuclear power plant is a source of pure energy without the release of carbon dioxide and other harmful particles and thus does not pose a threat to human health, unlike coal-fired power plants or fuel oil. Atomic energy provides a basic generation without carbon dioxide emissions and thereby contributes to the achievement of climate protection objectives. When using renewable energy sources it is necessary to take into account the natural data of a country. In Europe and in Hungary there is little free space for placing solar batteries. Wind generation operates with a low utilization rate of installed capacity, and is only 25%, in contrast to nuclear power plants operating all year round. As for Hungary, hydropower also has limited opportunities due to the lack of mountain rivers. At the same time, despite the decisive role of nuclear power, Paks NPP will continue to provide only half of the country's electricity. It follows that the other half of the energy requirements can provide renewable energy in a growing volume. In the energy strategy of the country, their share may reach about 20% by 2030.”



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