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Paks II. Ltd. ensures that work goes on
István Lenkei, CEO of Paks II. Ltd
The four units of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant provide 50% of domestically produced electricity and one-third of the electricity consumed in Hungary. However, they will be shut down between 2032-37. Two new units are being built to replace them. With these new units, the security of the Hungarian electricity supply will increase, as a sufficient amount of electricity will be provided from within the country, thus reducing Hungary’s dependence on imports.
The Paks Nuclear Power Plant produces electricity continuously, regardless of the weather, and this electricity is low-carbon, just like wind, solar, geothermal and hydro. The Hungarian units performed extremely well in the first months of the year: from 1 January to mid-April, their share in production remained consistently above 40%, approaching even 80% on several occasions in March and even exceeding it several times in April. The new Paks units prove that Hungary can ensure the production of low-carbon energy in the long run, which is essential for the future of our environment and the next generation.
The Paks II. Nuclear Power Plant Private Company Limited by Shares (Paks II. Ltd.) is responsible for preparing the construction of the two new Paks units which are to be built in the vicinity of the four existing units, obtaining the necessary licensing, carrying out the investment, and operating the new units later on. The goal of our company is to build a state-of-the-art power plant, which will operate safely, meet the most stringent requirements, and which will contribute to Hungary’s low-carbon electricity supply for decades, giving a boost to the development of the Hungarian industry, trade and education. All our employees are aware of the importance of this assignment.
We need thousands of different levels of regulatory approval to build the power plant, of which we have already obtained more than four hundred, including key licenses. We are currently working on the most complex task of the licensing phase, the compilation of the implementation license documentation. The submission of the application for the implementation license, scheduled for 30 June 2020, will be an important project milestone for this year. We will do everything we can to ensure that this happens, despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has made it necessary for us to reschedule our normal session, as in all areas of the economy.
Following the outbreak of the pandemic in Hungary, we introduced a number of emergency measures to preserve the health of our employees and slow the spread of the virus. We created the Paks II Pandemic Situation Management Group. We constantly monitor the recommendations and guidelines for Operational Staff, coordinating defense at national level, as well as the measures coming from the government, and our decisions are aligned with them. We are committed to maintaining the health of our workers, therefore we have introduced a number of measures. Via Paks II. Ltd.’s internal information channels, we keep the company’s employees up-to-date about the actions to be undertaken to prevent infection.
A working from home policy was introduced on 16 March 2020. While maintaining the continuity of the company’s business, we minimized the office presence step by step and prioritised electronic administration. Meetings that require a personal presence are held under strict hygienic rules. E-contacts are also a priority during negotiations with the Contractor. Paks II. Ltd.’s own-operated IT system and equipment enables our colleagues to perform their tasks from home. We are able to use all our software in home office mode and our colleagues have transitioned smoothly to remote working. The processing of materials from our Russian supplier is continuous. We are currently facing a major task, as compiling the application for the implementation license is crucial. Every employee within the company plays a significant role in this.
The implementation of the construction and erection base facilities has not stopped. The steel frame structure of two office buildings and a 100-person kitchen and restaurant have been completed, and the roof and facade panels of the buildings are being assembled. Construction of another building, the more than 3,500 m2 Power Plant Investment Centre which will accommodate 300 employees, will soon start.
In the meantime, the European Commission has approved the planned amendment of the government decree regulating the site preparation works related to the Paks II project. The goal is to start the preparatory earthworks at the Paks site, thus ensuring the conditions for work to continue. It is important to add that the proposed legislative change does not mean a mitigation. It does not change the regulations, the supervisory powers of the authority do not change. As a result of the amendment, Paks II. Ltd. – as a licensee – may also start the licensing procedure for earthworks three months following the submission of the application for the implementation license to the authority.
We know that in these extraordinary times, the Paks II. project is appreciated in several ways. On the one hand, due to its job-creating effect, and on the other hand, the pandemic highlighted that the electricity supply of the Hungarian population and economy should be ensured primarily by domestic, low-carbon power plants. It is important to emphasize that in the course of our work, circumstances have changed, but the principles remain the same: we do not let go of quality, and we remain committed to safety.