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City, Country
Belene, Pleven, Bulgaria

Number & type of Reactors
2 X VVER-320, 1000 MgW

Net Electric Power as % in 92 of national total
1900 MWe

Major population Centers in a 150 km radius and
total estimated population of 150 km r. region

8 million, including Bucharest and Varna

Date of commercial operation start up
or (if unfinished) date of construction start.

Under construction; construction was stopped in 1990 and 1995 due to mass public protest

NEK - builder

Accidents and Dangers:

Although the construction of Belene has been halted through popular protest, half of the power plant has been built on top of an active fault in the earth's crust. It is not clear the plant has been mothballed properly and original qualiy assurance is low.

Local Contact Group:

For the Earth, attn: Marianna, Ralitsa, or Ognyan
30 Parchevich Street,
Sofia 1000, Bulgaria,
tel: +359-(0)2-88 01 07;

Key Arguments/History

The Bulgarian Parliament is trying to push through the restart of construction of Belene as this Fingerbook goes to press (Feb 96)! The construction of Belene was stopped after a popular protest led by the independent environmental movement in 1986. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences produced a five part independent analysis of Belene examining 1) national energy balance 2) technical considerations 3) seismic issues 4) environmental effect and 5) the socio-economic impact. All five sections independently concluded that the plant was not needed or was the wrong choice. The government attempted to stop the distribution of this study, which was then published in book form. Only 50% of the first unit is complete after spending US$1.2 billion. Belene is oversized for the national grid producing 25% of the summer demand. Bulgaria has the lowest electricity prices in Eastern Europe, but it is still impossible for many people to pay for electricty and heat.


A national program of installing energy efficient light bulbs alone could replace over 200 MW of electricity at a net economic advantage to the country. Other efficiency measures (both residential and industrial) have very short payback periods (often under two years). On the supply side, upgrading the existing coal-fueled plants is cheaper than building any new facilities (especially nuclear ones). 50% of the installed capacity is idle. District heating systems and gas turbine generators alone could replace the need for Belene.