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Bulgaria forced to import electricity after semi-closure of nuclear plant

by Staff Writers
Sofia (AFP) Dec 13, 2007
Bulgaria will be forced to import electricity soon as it is experiencing energy shortages after partially closing its only nuclear power plant at Kozloduy last year, the daily Trud reported Thursday.

"Bulgaria, which only a year ago was a major electricity exporter in the Balkans, will have to start importing electricity in January 2008," Trud commented.

According to an official report by the country's National Electricity Company (NEK), Bulgaria's electricity shortages next year will amount to 1.324 billion kilowatt-hours or 3.4 percent of total consumption, the newspaper said.

The deficit will be felt most sharply in January and August and the country will be forced to cover it by importing electricity from abroad, the report added.

In 2006, Bulgaria covered 60 percent of the region's energy deficit by exporting 7.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.

But the country shut down two old but revamped 440-megawatt reactors at Kozloduy in December 2006 to secure accession to the European Union in January.

In 2002, Bulgaria had already closed down the plant's two oldest 440-megawatt blocs, leaving only two 1,000-megawatt blocs in operation.

Until the end of October this year, Sofia was still able to send abroad some two billion KwH of electricity.

But coal shortages and the necessity to partially shut down a thermal power plant due to environmental concerns will bring the country's export capacity to zero in 2008, the NEK report said.

To compensate for the lost capacity, Bulgaria signed last year a contract to build two 1,000-megawatt reactors at a new nuclear plant at Belene.

Construction work is scheduled to begin in 2008, with the first reactor expected to be operational by January 2014 and the second a year later.

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