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Westinghouse wins deal to build nuclear power plant in Bulgaria

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By John D. Oravecz
Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, 11:33 a.m.
 

Westinghouse Electric Co. signed an agreement to build a nuclear reactor at an existing power plant in Bulgaria, underscoring its efforts to seek business in foreign countries where nuclear power is an important part of the energy equation.

The value of the agreement was not disclosed, but an AP1000, the type that Westinghouse is building for Bulgaria's state-owned nuclear power plant operator Koz­loduy Nuclear Power Plant PLC, costs about $5 billion. It is projected to be online by 2023, Westinghouse said on Friday.

“We are pleased to take this next significant step to provide Bulgaria and Europe with the advanced AP1000 nuclear plant design,” said Danny Roderick, CEO of the Cranberry-based company, which is the world's biggest provider of nuclear power technology.

The Westinghouse reactor will expand the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant on the Danube river that operates two Russian-designed reactors. It will help the country satisfy efforts by the European Union to reduce carbon emissions through cleaner sources of energy. The deal will generate 20,000 jobs in Bulgaria and sustain jobs in the United States, Roderick said.

Westinghouse, which is majority owned by Japanese conglomerate Toshiba Corp., will provide all of the plant equipment, design, engineering and fuel for the reactor. Westinghouse expects construction will involve Bulgarian and global companies. It said it will seek bids in 2015.

The Balkan country relies on Russia for energy supplies. The Westinghouse plant will help the country diversify its sources of nuclear power generation away from Russia at a time the crisis in Ukraine is stoking tensions with Europe. Bulgaria scrapped plans to build a second nuclear power facility with Russian company Atomstroyexport to supplement the Kozloduy plant.

The slowly recovering global economy, stiffer competition from natural gas plants fed by shale gas, and shaken views about nuclear power safety after a tsunami crippled Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex dampened demand for orders and has led to layoffs at Westinghouse. Japan, Germany and France scaled back plans. Orders for two AP1000 reactors in North Carolina are on hold, and the supply of two others in Florida is delayed for perhaps a decade.

The AP1000 plant was developed by Westinghouse to create a simpler, safer and more economical nuclear reactor. And Westinghouse has been trolling for new business — especially in foreign countries. In January, it announced three AP1000 units will be built in northern United Kingdom and is marketing its design elsewhere in Europe, India and throughout Asia and the Middle East.

The company has eight AP1000s under construction — two in Georgia, two in South Carolina and four in China. Eight more have been announced for sites in China, said Westinghouse spokesman Hans Korteweg. The first AP1000 unit being built in China is expected to begin generating electricity by the end of 2015, with another unit expected to follow shortly, he said.

The Kozloduy plant has two 1,000-megawatt units of the Russian VVER type in operation, which produce more than one-third of Bulgaria's electricity supply. One megawatt can power about 800 homes.

John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or joravecz@tribweb.com.

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