Hungarian Nuclear History

Rosco Allen
March 16, 2015

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2015


Fig. 1: Hungarian National Flag. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Hungary (Magyarország in the native tongue, Hungarian) is land-locked in Central Europe. The country's flag is pictured in Fig. 1. It is neighbored by Austria, Slovakia, and Ukraine to the North, Slovenia to the West, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro to the South, and Romania to the East. [1] Hungary is a small country with an area of 35,919 square miles and a population of 10,086,000. 17% of the population live in the capital, Budapest, which is known as a popular tourist destination. Hungary relies on several different sources to produce its electrical energy (37.4 TWh), these include Nuclear (42%), Natural Gas (31%), Coal (17%), and Combustable Renewables (7%). [2] With the majority of electrical energy being produced by nuclear energy, the Paks Nuclear Power Plant is to thank.

Paks Nuclear Power Plant

Fig. 2: Paks Nuclear Power Plant. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Paks Nuclear Power Plant, pictured in Fig. 2, is located in the city of Paks, located south of Budapest and to the west of the Danube, the countries largest river. The plant contains four reactors called Paks 1, Paks 2, Paks 3, and Paks 4. The original Paks 1 has been in service since 1982, Paks 2 since 1984, Paks 3 since 1986, and Paks 4 since 1987. They all use a Soviet-designed VVER-213 pressurised water reactor, whcih are low-cost and free of greenhouse gas emissions. The four generators have combined to produce a lifetime quantity of 330.5 TWh through 2010 in their lifetime. [2]

The Incident

On April 10, 2003 the Paks Nuclear Power Plant experienced it's sole incident of note. The incident occurred while fuel from the reactor Paks 2 was being cleaned. The issue came when the 30 fuel assemblies were brought to the fuel cleaning tank and some of the fuel assemblies began to leak, which led to increased radiation levels. The final diagnosis revealed the incident occurred because of a combination of a poor cleaning tank design and a weak safety analysis. [3]

Hungary's Nuclear "Alliance"

Fig. 3: Hungarian Parliament, Budapest, Hungary. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Paks Nuclear Plant is expanding, as plans for building an additional reactor, Paks 5, has been set in motion. Hungary has turned to Russia for funding for their new project, an estimated $11 billion loan has been agreed upon between the countries. With this loan, Hungary and Russia will be connected under nuclear energy, as well as the already pre existing gas contract. Both the Russian and Hungarian Parliament (pictured in Fig. 3) view the contract as mutually beneficial. Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's friendship has much of the European Union, along with conflict countries such as Georgia and Ukraine worried. [2]

© Rosco Allen. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] A. Boros-Kazai, "Hungary" in Eastern Europe: An Introduction to People, Land, and Culture, ed. by R. Frucht (ABC-CLIO, 2004).

[2] "The Viktor and Vladimir Show," The Economist, 14 Feb 15.

[3] "Energy Policies of IEA Countries: Hungary, 2011 Review," International Energy Agency, July 2011, p. 17.