8 Jul (NucNet): Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom has demanded a guarantee on electricity prices from the Slovak government in negotiations over the possible construction of a new nuclear reactor unit on the site of three shut-down reactors at Jaslovské Bohunice.
Negotiations between the Slovak government and Rosatom stalled on 3 July when the Russian company demanded a guarantee on the minimum price of electricity to be produced by the proposed reactor at around 65 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh).
The Slovak economy minister Tomáš Malatinský said it is “not possible” to provide such a guarantee at the moment, and every other member state of the European Union faces a similar problem.
According to the European Energy Exchange (EEX), the price of electricity on the European Electricity Index for 3 July was between approximately 37 and 45 euros per MWh, significantly lower than the requested guarantee. In this situation, the Slovak government would have to cover the difference in favour of Rosatom.
Leoš Tomiček, vice-president of JSC Rusatom Overseas, a subsidiary of Rosatom, said the market in the EU is distorted by subsidies which, together with the economic crisis, drive prices down.
“When subsidies disappear one day, which will have to happen, the price will go up to a different level […] approximately 60-70 euros [per MWh]” he said in an interview with Slovak daily newspaper Pravda.
In the case of an international electricity price higher than the guarantee, Rosatom would have to pay the difference to the Slovak government.
Mr Tomiček also said that the guarantee is needed because Russia is not an EU member and cannot influence the long-term energy policy of the EU, including its energy prices. “This contract would give us the certainty that the project will always be advantageous,” he said.
Mr Tomiček told Pravda that in return, Rosatom would guarantee that the agreed cost will not be exceeded and that the new unit would be completed within five years of the launch of construction.
The planned reactor would be at the site of the decommissioned Bohunice A1 and Bohunice-1 and -2 nuclear units at Jaslovské Bohunice. This is near the Bohunice V2 or Trnava nuclear plant, which houses the operational Bohunice-3 and Bohunice-4 reactors.
The Slovak government is negotiating with six companies that could supply the reactor, including Rosatom, Areva and Westinghouse.
Economy minister Tomáš Malatinský was scheduled to present the result of the negotiations by the end of June, but told Slovakia’s cabinet of ministers on 3 July that the negotiations were not complete.
The government agreed to extend the deadline and Mr Malatinský will now have to present the outcome of the negotiations at the end of October this year.
The cost of the proposed new unit is estimated to be between four and six billion euros (5.1 to 7.7 billion US dollars).
Slovakia has four commercially operational nuclear units at two plants. They are Bohunice-3 and -4 (also known as Bohunice V2 or Trnava) and Mochovce-1 and -2. It also has two nuclear units under construction at Mochovce.
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