Friday, January 23, 2009

The Energy Center of the Balkans

СИМЕОН САКСКОБУРГГОТСКИ ПОСЕТИ АЕЦ КОЗЛОДУЙ We’re probably edging close to beating this story to death, but we admit we’re fascinated by Bulgaria’s attempts to rouse its nuclear industry in the face of Russia’s reminding it how overdependent it is on Russia’s natural gas. The other day, we doubted Bulgaria’s nuclear rebirth could sustain itself without making it central to its energy policy. Well, now the Bulgarians are moving out of crisis mode and into policy mode:

Ever since [the plants’] closure at midnight on December 31 2006, as a precondition for Bulgaria’s European Union membership, the issue has been exploited by a number of politicians who have cited Bulgaria’s energy security and the country’s lost role as “the energy centre of the Balkans”.

And get this:

Numerous internal investigations have all confirmed that the two units are entirely safe and that Bulgaria suffered an injustice by being effectively forced to agree on their closure to qualify for EU membership.

The IAEA helped Bulgaria get the plants up to standards in the early part of the decade. The story doesn’t say who conducted the “internal investigations,” so accept that as you will. We’d be happier if the IAEA stopped by for an inspection.

We get the impression that Bulgaria might be vulnerable to, shall we say, an excess of nationalism:

Such a stand [for switching the plants on] boosted the popularity of the ultra-nationalist Ataka party, exploiting people’s dreams of resurrecting Bulgaria as a key energy provider and exporter of electricity to other countries in the region.

Or the Ataka party (its web site in Bulgarian – pictures show a lot of grim visages) could be a bunch of dead-enders. Someone with a better sense of modern Bulgarian politics might want to comment on this.

We should note, too, that Bulgaria is not suddenly re-embracing nuclear energy. Although EU jitters closed the current plants, construction has started on new ones and these apparently pass EU muster. In any event, we may be wise to back away from our earlier stance and acknowledge that the Bulgarians are grappling with the issues surrounding nuclear energy given their specific circumstances.

By all means, read the whole article. Writer Petar Kostadinov does a terrific job laying out all the elements – and very nicely translated, too.

Yesterday, we had the outside of the Kozloduy plant. This is inside.

2 comments:

Alex P. said...

Are there in Bulgaria any nuclear fuelled district heating systems,too ?

Momchil said...

No there is no nuclear fueled district heating. Except for the town of Kozloduy, where the NPP is, but it has less than 5000 customers.