Hungarian official defends Paks II: We didn’t have many choices

The original Paks nuclear plant, slated for expansion. Hungary, 2012. [IAEA/Flickr]

The Commission’s Clean Energy proposal will lead to a price increase for households, Andrea Beatrix Kádár of the Hungarian Ministry of Development told EURACTIV Slovakia.

Andrea Beatrix Kadar is a biochemical engineer and chemical technical engineer. She has served as Hungary’s Deputy State Secretary for Energy Affairs since July 2014.

Kádár was interviewed by EURACTIV.sk’s Senior Editor Pavol Szalai at the Budapest conference Electricity Market Integration 2.0 in Central and South East Europe.

Regarding the Clean Energy for All Europeans proposal, you talked a lot about price regulation. What is Hungary’s main issue?

Hungary is in a very special situation. We are one of those member states in which households spend one third of their income on bills for energy and heating. We don’t think the proposal of the Commission (to deregulate retail prices) would lead to the decrease of prices. If we look at the experience of other countries, following the phase-out of regulated prices, there was not a decrease, but an increase in prices.

At the same time, there is a big disconnect between retail and wholesale prices. Aren’t the retail prices higher because of all the taxes and levies in Hungary?

As for the household prices, the Hungarian government has a very firm intention to keep them at an affordable level for the people. And we are trying to use every kind of tool to reach this objective.

Energy analyst: New nuclear reactors will heavily increase Hungary’s debt

Hungary does not care about the requirements imposed by the European Commission on Paks II, energy analyst András Deák told EURACTIV Slovakia.

András Deák is a senior research fellow at the Institute of World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Deák spoke with EURACTIV.sk’s Pavol Szalai.

Hungarian MEP Benedek Jávor (Greens) told me that …

When will Hungary make a final investment decision on the construction of the Paks II nuclear power plant?

Paks II is not my responsibility. We have a new minister without portfolio for the project.

But the necessary licensing has started and the different decisions by the European Commission are already in place. In March, the Commission took a decision on state aid. We are on the right track.

Is it a good decision to make such a huge investment in nuclear power?

Absolutely, it is a good decision. In Hungary, we call Paks II a ‘capacity maintenance project’. We have the old reactors at Paks I. The lifetime of the four units will expire in the 2030s. The last one will expire in 2037. Therefore, we are trying to find a solution to replace the 2000 MW. In such a case, you don’t have too many choices. We have chosen nuclear energy. By the time the lifetime of the old reactors expires, we will have to finish the construction of the new ones. The target for the new units is in the mid-2020s.

So, Paks I and Paks II will run in parallel.

For a short period of time. After that, it will be a capacity maintenance project.

Aren’t you afraid that it will increase Hungary’s dependence on Russia?

I don’t think so. In the case of the old reactors, there has been so far no problem regarding the fuel. I don’t think we will have any other unexpected issues. We still have a diversified energy mix. Besides nuclear energy, we have green energies and coal and lignite.

Hungary and Slovakia have recently signed an agreement for strengthening the interconnection of their electricity transmission systems. Why has it taken such a long time for the two countries to interconnect?

I don’t think it took such a long time. In the energy sector, projects always take some time to get started. But after some time, we really found the right place (for the interconnections). And we signed the important agreement with Slovakia.

Why is it important for Hungary?

Because of security of supply. It is a pair of electricity lines. One is important for us, the other for Slovakia. It is a question of supply security for both countries. Hungary currently has quite a good level of interconnection with the neighbouring countries.

Isn’t Hungary afraid of competition with Slovak companies?

I believe we can manage the situation.

Hungary wins final EU approval for Russian-built nuclear plant

The European Commission cleared on Monday (6 March) the last hurdle for Hungary’s nuclear project Paks II despite outstanding concerns about the role of the national regulator and spent fuel management.