The EU-Armenia Nuclear Power Plant Discussion

Armenia is preparing for a major modernization of the country's only nuclear power plant (NPP). The work will begin on June 1 and will last two months. The Ministry of Energy of the Republic said that despite the suspension of the work of the NPP, there will not be a deficit of electricity in the country.

Armenian specialists are engaged in technical re-equipment of the station together with their Russian counterparts.

"The nuclear power plant will be completely restarted in December. The modernization program is financed by a Russian loan of $ 300 million and is aimed at extending the life of the nuclear power plant for another ten years. After that, according to the results of expert studies, it will be decided whether it is possible to prolong the operation or not," said Minister of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources of Armenia, Artur Grigoryan.

“Armenia coordinated with the European Union the issue of extending the operation of the nuclear power plant for 10 years within the framework of the signed Agreement on Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership,” Grigoryan, told journalists on Friday.

The Head of the Union for the Protection of Consumer Rights Armen Poghosyan said on May 22 that the EU had several times put forward an ultimatum requirement on the timing of the closure of the Armenian NPP, the latest arriving early last week.

"We have agreed with the EU on the extension of the life of the Armenian NPP," Grigoryan told reporters on Friday.

On November 24, 2017, at the fifth summit of the EU program ‘Eastern Partnership’ in Brussels, Armenia signed an Agreement on Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership with the EU. The document will come into force after all 28 EU member states and Armenia ratify it.

On April 12, 2018, the Armenian National Assembly deputies ratified the Agreement between the Republic of Armenia, the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

Head of the Union for the Protection of Consumer Rights Armen Poghosyan last week advised caution with regards the NPP closure and the EU ultimatum. “The Armenian government must adopt a program on energy saving and energy efficiency, but not in such a way as to damage national interests or without taking into account nuclear power plants or an alternative source of electricity,” he said.

On April 12, the Armenian government approved the technical regulation of energy saving and energy efficiency in new buildings, as well as in facilities built, reconstructed and repaired at the expense of public funds.

"The issue of energy saving is undoubtedly relevant, and the government's [April 12] decision is welcome. In any developed country, steps are being taken to reduce electricity costs, but this decision becomes inadequate and dangerous when it indicates the prospects for the closure of the nuclear power plant. If the issue of NPPs or alternative sources of electricity is not resolved, then one day Armenia may face the threat of energy collapse," Pogosyan said last week.

The Armenian NPP, the only one in the region, is located 30 kilometers south of Yerevan. It was commissioned in 1980 and stopped in March 1989, after the December 1988 earthquake in Spitak that killed 25,000 people. The plant was re-introduced in November 1995 in connection with the most acute energy crisis in the Republic. Currently, only the second unit, with a capacity of 407.5 MW, is functioning.

Armenia intends to build a new nuclear power unit with a capacity of 600 MW. Construction is scheduled to start in 2018-2019. The total cost of the project is to be around $5 billion.

By Dimitri Dolaberidze

28 May 2018 18:16