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Bulgaria Reporting Progress in Quest for Energy Security

Varna

In Varna and throughout Bulgaria, just over 40% of all electricity needs are provided using nuclear energy. (Photo: BulgariaTravel)

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With nuclear plants providing two-fifths of its electricity, Bulgaria is looking to strengthen its base for energy security. Among the plans are two new nuclear plants at Belene, a project making progress after years of delays.

Over the coming decade, Bulgaria is expected to show a significant increase in its electric power demands, Lubomir Velkov, Executive Director of the National Electricity Company, said this week at the Annual Meeting of the Bulgarian Atomic Forum (Bulatom) in Varna. He said that progress toward building the Belene plant is a welcome sign for the country. "Bulgaria and other countries in the region already are experiencing shortages of electricity," he said.

The Belene plants are needed as replacements for four reactors that have been shut down at Kozloduy. Mr. Velkov noted that before the shutdown, Bulgaria not only met most of its own electricity needs, but ranked among Europe´s top exporters of electric power. (Also reported this week is the interest of Italy´s Enel Spa to become a strategic partner in the Belene plant, offering to buy up to a 49% stake in the project).

Speaking at the Conference, Mr. Yury Sokolov, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy, emphasized that "the development of nuclear power is considered by many countries as a mechanism for increasing the security of supply" and for protecting the climate and environment. He said that the IAEA is looking forward to continued cooperation on a range of activities as construction of Belene moves ahead.

The Bulatom Conference is being attended this week by more than 150 participants from the Bulgarian nuclear community, and from Europe, the United States, Russia, the IAEA, and European Commission. The Conference was opened by the President of Bulatom, Mr. B.Manchev; the Minister of Energy, Mr. R. Ovcharov; and the IAEA´s Mr. Sokolov.

Speakers and participants in the Forum congratulated the IAEA on the occasion of its 50th anniversary and expressed their appreciation for the IAEA´s work to help countries develop and safely use nuclear power technology. Also noted was Bulgaria´s cooperation and support to the work of the IAEA.