Austria must accept Hungary’s right to decide on energy supply, says offical
Vienna, April 18 (MTI) – Austria must accept Hungary’s right to decide for itself how to supply its energy needs, the government commissioner for the upgrade of Hungary’s nuclear plant in Paks said in an interview published in the Tuesday issue of Austrian daily Der Standard.
“We are not as lucky as Austria, which has an abundance of mountain streams that can be used in energy production,” Attila Aszódi said. “For us, nuclear energy is the only carbon-free energy source which can provide a stable energy supply regardless of weather conditions.”
Aszódi noted that the Paks plant consists of four nuclear reactors that were built between 1982 and 1987 and had originally been designed for a life cycle of 30 years. Their life cycles were later extended by 20 years, but they will be replaced in the 2030s by the two new blocks to be built in the next decade, the government commissioner said.
Commenting on the suggestion that Austria could take Hungary to court over the project on the grounds of the involvement of illegal state aid, Aszódi said Austria had the legal means to take such steps, but the Hungarian government does not believe that such a legal challenge would be successful. Aszodi said the government hoped that for the sake of preserving friendly bilateral ties, Austria would acknowledge that like other European Union member states, Hungary, too has the right to decide for itself how to supply its energy needs.
The government commissioner said the European Commission had spent a year and a half investigating the Paks 2 project before approving it.
Contrary to what critics say, the Paks upgrade “does not come with any Russian influence”, Aszódi said in response to a question about Moscow’s political role in the project.
He said Atomstroyexport, the subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom, which is the general contractor for the project, would carry out the upgrade with a number of international subcontractors. The owner and operator of the Paks 2 plant will be a company that is fully owned by the Hungarian state, he said.
Aszódi said the contract between Hungary and Russia is accessible to the public, adding that the Russian loan was not subject to any political conditions. He said the reason why Hungary had chosen to finance the project with a loan from Russia was because it was hard to find other sources of funding with similar terms.
Construction of the new blocks will last ten years and Hungary will have 21 years to pay back the loan, he said. In addition, the agreement includes the possibility of advance repayment, which Aszódi said was beneficial to Hungary.
Aszódi said every country in the region imports energy from Russia, noting that Austria and Slovakia import Russian gas while Germany had built the Nord Stream gas pipeline and is preparing to build Nord Stream 2. He said importing Russian gas brought with it a far greater degree of energy dependence than building a nuclear plant, for which the fuel rods can be procured years in advance and stored safely.
“If we did not build the nuclear plant, we’d have to import more natural gas to meet our energy needs,” the government commissioner said.
Read the original interview here: Ungarn an Österreich: “Russischer Partner wird ein gutes AKW bauen”
Photo: Daily News Hungary