Framatome, Hungary extend cooperation on nuclear power

September 15, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Framatome CEO Bernard Fontana (left) shakes hands with Hungarian energy minister Csaba Lantos. (Photo: Framatome)

France-based Framatome and the Hungary’s Ministry of Energy agreed this week to strengthen their relationship in the field of nuclear energy, including in such areas as fuel supply, education, research and development, implementation of new technologies, and long-term operation.

Signing a memorandum of understanding on September 12 were Framatome chief executive officer Bernard Fontana and Hungary’s energy minister Csaba Lantos.

“Framatome is strongly engaged in supporting Hungary’s nuclear industry and energy policy, and this new agreement further bears witness to the trust our customers have placed in our robust and reliable expertise and integrated supply chain over the years,” Fontana said in a company press release. “This MOU confirms our commitment to contribute to the diversification and security of fuel supply for the safe and reliable operation of the existing nuclear fleet and for preparing for the next generation of nuclear energy.”

Hungary’s sole nuclear power facility, Paks, is located near the Danube River about 62 miles southwest of Budapest. The plant houses four 479-MWe pressurized water reactors—all Russian-supplied VVER-440/V213 units.

“Without nuclear power plants, there is no security of supply, external exposures cannot be reduced, and climate protection commitments cannot be met,” said Lantos. “At EU level, Hungary is one of the most committed supporters of the cooperation of the member states promoting the use of nuclear energy. France is our permanent ally in this fight, but Framatome is also a key player in European energy efficiency and competitiveness efforts. By strengthening our partnership, we are opening a new era in an ever-expanding and mutually fruitful cooperation.”

Russian invasions have consequences: According to the Framatome release, all European VVER licensees have asked the company to look for “a solution to eliminate difficulties in the supply of critical services and to reduce risks and import exposure.”

Said Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice president of Framatome’s fuel business unit: “For several years now, Framatome has been developing an industrial solution to support the short- and midterm needs of VVER nuclear operators, for both VVER-1000-MW and VVER-440-MW reactors. In the short term, Framatome will provide the proven and incumbent design and in the midterm, Framatome is the only fuel supplier able to guarantee a sovereign European solution, with a fully European design, manufacturing, and components supply chain, thanks to our longstanding, proven expertise and track records.”

Currently, there are 19 VVER reactors running in Europe. In addition to the four at Paks, there are two VVER-1000s in Bulgaria, four VVER-440s and two VVER-1000s in the Czech Republic, two VVER-440s in Finland, and five VVER-440s n Slovakia.

In case you missed it: Earlier this year, Framatome inked a similar MOU with Slovakia’s nuclear operator, Slovenské Elektrárne. The signing took place on May 31 in Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, during a meeting between Slovakian president Zuzana Čaputová and French president Emmanuel Macron.

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