Hungary bolsters energy diplomacy

27 May 2022

The Hungarian government has organised energy issues, including the Paks II project, to be under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, citing the changing situation in energy as well as around the project to build a Russian-supplied nuclear power plant.

Péter Szijjártó (left) and János Süli (right) (Image: Paks II)

In a hearing last week ahead of his subsequent reappointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó made comments summarised by the Origo news website as: "Due to the events of the recent period and the challenges of the coming period, energy policy will become a 'hard political issue'". 

Szijjártó wants to accelerate the Paks II project in response to Europe's current high energy prices and security concerns. He also wants Hungary to advocate its views on energy more effectively at the EU level and sees combining energy and trade issues as a route to this.

While Paks II will be part of Szijjártó's ministry, direct responsibility will still be held by János Süli, who moves from being a Minister without Portfolio to being a Minister within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Both men were officially appointed in their positions on 25 May.

Origo reported that Szijjártó said he had met with Rosatom in Istanbul and the company had assured him of its ability to deliver Paks II, which will comprise two VVER-1200 units. Extensive preparations are under way at the site and major components have already been ordered. Full construction approval is still outstanding, but Szijjártó said the goal was to start construction in the second half of 2023 and get the new plant into operation before 2030.

On 26 May, the National Atomic Energy Authority issued a permit for the construction of a gap wall that will prevent groundwater ingress to excavated areas for the Paks II units. This was said to be a 'key' step towards full construction.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News