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Until 1991

Until 1991


1992 - 2001

2002 - 2012 


After 2012


The studies for the construction of a second NPP began in the early 70s of the XX century and at the end of the decade a site near the town of Belene was selected, approved by Decree № 9 of March 1981 of the Council of Ministers. Initially, the construction of 4 energy units was planned, with the possibility of expansion with more new capacities.

The initial design of Belene NPP was developed in the period 1986-1987 by the design institutes AEP - Kiev and Energoproekt - Sofia and provided for the construction of 4 units with reactors type WWER-1000 / V-320, analogous to the designs of units 5 and 6 at Kozloduy NPP.

The main construction began in 1987. Extensive construction of the plant was carried out in 1988-1990 and during this period for the first unit reactor building to the level of the hermetic protective structure basis and the metal supporting structure of the turbine hall were built. 


In parallel, a large part of the equipment for the auxiliary facilities and for the first unit was delivered. The delivered equipment has been stored on the site of the plant. 

By a decision of the Bulgarian Government in August 1991, the construction of Belene NPP was stopped. The Energy Committee was assigned to organize preparation of a feasibility study for the construction of a steam and gas power plant on the site of the Belene NPP, or on another alternative site. In addition, the relevant state authorities have been required to prepare proposals for the utilization, in an efficient manner, of the created infrastructure, and the construction base erected on the site.

Between 1992 and 2001 a number of studies and assessments were carried out to confirm that the site's characteristics are in line with the international requirements and the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as to assess the possibilities for continuation of the project, taking into account the updated safety requirements.

Also, throughout this period, measures were taken for preservation of the main building structures and for maintaining conservation of the main equipment stored on the site.

Based on the results of the research conducted until 2002 and in order to implement the Least Cost Energy Development Plan of Bulgaria until 2020, the Council of Ministers, with Decision № 853 of December 2002, repealed the decision of 1991 to stop the construction of Belene NPP.

The Decision of the Council of Ministers of December 2002 instructed the Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources (MEER) to organize the necessary studies of state-of-art nuclear technologies for compliance with the requirements of the regulations in force in Bulgaria. After completion of these studies and analyzes with Protocol № 17 of April 2004, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria took a decision in principle for the construction of the Belene NPP nuclear power plant.


In November 2004, after a procedure for environmental impact assessment (EIA), the Minister of Environment and Water with his decision on EIA № 18-8 / 2004 approved the implementation of the investment proposal for the construction of Belene NPP at the Belene site.

In January 2005 the National Electric Company (NEK) signed contracts with the selected consultants, respectively Parsons E&C - Architect Engineer of the project; and Deloitte - Financial Consultant of the project.

By Decisions № 259 and 260 of April 2005, the Council of Ministers determined the project as a project of national importance and decided to build a nuclear power plant on the Belene site with a maximum installed electrical capacity of 2000 MW based on an evolutionary design, using proven technical solutions with a pressurized water reactor.


In the period May 2005 to October 2006 a competition was held for selection of technology and main contractor for the construction of Belene NPP. As a result, the proposal of Atomstroyexport, Russia for the construction of 2 units with 1000 MW each, under the evolutionary project A-92 with reactor installation V-466, was chosen.

In November 2006, the NEK signed an agreement with the selected contractor Atomstroyexport (ACE), which allowed the practical implementation of the activities, and the parties undertook to conclude a final contract for engineering, procurement and construction of Belene NPP. The CARSIB consortium (Areva / Siemens) was designated as the main foreign subcontractor of ACE. About 30% of the project activities were planned for Bulgarian subcontractors.

The contract for engineering, procurement and construction of Belene NPP between NEK and ACE was signed in January 2008. The contract included conditions for entry into force and until these conditions are met, the activities are performed on the basis of a series of amendments to the November 2006 agreement.

After fulfillment of all envisaged permitting procedures under the Act on the Safe Use of Atomic Energy and implementation of the necessary analyzes, the Belene site was approved by an Order of the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA) from December 2006.


In 2007, the obligations for notification of the European Commission (EC) for the investment project under the Euratom Treaty were fulfilled. The positive opinion of the EC was received in December 2007.

The design of Belene NPP was completed in the period up to 2008 and the developed version 1 of the design was subject to in-depth assessment and subsequently supplemented as a result of a set of expertise at national and international level.

At the end of April 2010, version 2 was issued, which includes the amendments made to version 1 and reflects resolution of the comments of the NRA and of the independent Bulgarian and international expertise performed in its assistance. Version 2 was submitted for approval by the NRA.

In September 2008, the official start of the project implementation activities was given at the Belene NPP site in the presence of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Energy, representatives of the Parliament and the diplomatic corps.


In parallel, since mid-2007, NEK has been conducting the procedures for selection of a strategic investor for Belene NPP construction project. As a result, in December 2008 an agreement was signed between NEK and RWE Power AG for a strategic partnership in its implementation.

In the period June 2008 - July 2009, in accordance with the design of preparatory and integration activities, the existing structures were dismantled, as a result of which the ballast cushion of the site was uncovered, and the site was prepared for construction activities as per the plant design.

Subsequently, in 2010, additional activities were carried out to protect the ballast cushion in order to conserve it until obtaining a permit for the implementation of the Belene NPP project.

In November 2008, NEK and ACE signed an addendum to the November 2006 Agreement assigning the manufacturing of long-lead items for Units 1 and 2 in the period up to 2013. The addendum concerns the main equipment for the plant - reactor installation, steam generators, passive protection systems, refueling machine, polar crane, turbine hall crane, turbine installation, etc.

In March 2012, the Council of Ministers adopted a decision № 250 revoking the 2005 decisions to designate a nuclear power plant at the Belene site as a project of national importance and to build a nuclear power plant at the Belene site.

The decision was justified by the impossibility at that time to structure the project in a way that would guarantee its economic viability in the conditions of the global financial and economic crisis in this period.


On January 27, 2013, a national referendum was held in the country with the question: "Should nuclear energy be developed in the Republic of Bulgaria through the construction of a new nuclear power plant?".

According to the officially announced results, 1,405,463 citizens voted in this referendum, representing 20.22% of the citizens with voting rights, of which 851,757 citizens voted "yes", which is more than half of the number of participants in the national referendum.

Due to the fact that the needed activity level for recognizing the results of the referendum has not been reached, in February 2013 a decision on it was taken by the National Assembly, which, with this decision: 

  • Supports the government's decision to suspend the project to build a new nuclear power plant at the Belene site and insists on its final termination.

  • Insists on speeding up the procedures for extending the life of Units 5 and 6 of Kozloduy NPP.

  • Recommends that the government announce an open international tender for the construction of a new generation 3+ nuclear power plant at the Kozloduy site.



In the period until 2016 arbitration disputes between National Electric Company EAD (NEK) and Atomstroyexport took place in the International Court of Arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, regarding unsettled financial relations as a result of the implementation of the project activities. The final decision on the disputes was taken by the Arbitration Tribunal in Geneva in June 2016.

At the end of 2016, NEK acquired ownership of the manufactured equipment with a long production cycle for the first and second units of Belene NPP and by the end of 2017 all the manufactured equipment was delivered for storage on the Belene NPP site.

In the period January 2017 - October 2017, the Institute for Economic Research of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences commissioned by the Bulgarian Energy Holding conducted a detailed study on "Preparation of a National Strategy in the field of energy". The study found the following status of the Belene NPP project:

  • available equipment and components - manufactured and delivered basic equipment for primary circuit (two sets);

  • condition of the site - performed demolition works for removal of unnecessary structures and started construction works on auxiliary sites;

  • level of design readiness - prepared technical design and submitted for approval by the NRA, prepared recommendations for corrections;

  • issued decisions and permits - valid decisions and permits within the meaning of the Act on the Safe Use of Nuclear Energy, the Environmental Protection Act and the Spatial Planning Act.

At this moment, according to the data of the Ministry of Energy, the value of the assets related to the Belene NPP Project is in total amounting to over BGN 2 billion, incl. costs of assets under construction, interest on loans, costs of consulting services, costs of state fees, costs of acquisition of fixed assets, including buildings, infrastructure, machinery and equipment in storage.

In June 2018, the Council of Ministers adopted a decision repealing the decision of March 2012 to suspend further actions related to the implementation of the Belene project and instructed the Minister of Energy to resume seeking of opportunities to build the plant together with a strategic investor.

This decision of the government was in connection with a decision of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria from June 2018 to resume actions to seek opportunities for the construction of Belene NPP.


Pursuant to the above decisions, in March 2019 NEK issued an invitation for selection of a strategic investor for the construction of Belene NPP. 

According to publications on the topic, in May 2020 the information memorandum for the Belene NPP project was sent to all candidates included in the so-called short list – Russian Atomenergoprom, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation, the Korean Hydro and Nuclear Corporation, Framatome SAS and American General Electric.

On October 11, 2023, the Council of Ministers adopted a decision revoking a 2018 government decision for conducting negotiations with potential investors and equipment manufacturers.

With the new decision, the Government instructs the Minister of Energy to take action to terminate the procedure announced by NEK EAD for the selection of strategic investors for the construction of the Belene NPP. In addition, the "Belene" NPP ceases to be an object of national importance again.

The decision of the Council of Ministers is also in connection with the decision of the National Assembly of 06.07.2023, with which the Minister of Energy is assigned to conduct negotiations with the Minister of Energy of Ukraine for the sale of the equipment under the Belene NPP project.

2013 - Onward
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