New Energy Strategy Focuses on Sustainability

Pál Kovács, Minister of State for Climate Change
Pál Kovács, Minister of State for Climate Change

Recognising the crucial role energy will play in Hungary’s sustainable economic development, the government has adopted the National Energy Strategy 2030, which sets out Hungary’s goals for the energy sector. According to the Ministry of National Development, The National Energy Strategy 2030, based on new foundations, will ensure the long term sustainability, security and economic competitiveness of energy supply in Hungary.

Five key targets

The new strategy specifies five key targets: to boost energy savings and efficiency, to promote the development and use of renewable energies in Hungary, to integrate Hungary’s energy infrastructure with the European energy grid and to develop necessary cross border capacities, to maintain existing nuclear energy facilities, and to utilise domestic coal and lignite resources for power production in an ecologically responsible manner.

The strategy sets out a new direction in Hungary’s energy policies and stresses the need to adapt to climate change challenges and the long term decline of fossil fuels worldwide. It also emphasises making sure Hungary’s energy sector meets EU standards.

Energy security is a key issue in the new energy policy. Hungary still has its own fossil fuel reserves (coal and lignite), although exploiting these reserves presents technological and environmental challenges. Hungary’s Paks nuclear powerplant continues to supply around 42% of the country’s electricity needs, and Hungary has developed significant storage capacity for natural gas. In addition, Hungary has strong potential to develop renewable energies.

In the short term, however, Hungary is highly dependent on imported energy sources and is likely to remain so for many years. Around 80% of Hungary’s natural gas is imported from Russia via a single pipeline; around 80% of the country’s oil is also imported. One priority in the new energy policy is to diversify Hungary’s sources for natural gas while also cutting consumption.

Energy Minister cites commitment to nuclear power

Nuclear energy will remain a key feature of Hungary’s energy landscape. At an international energy conference held in Paris in February this year, Hungary’s Minister of State for Climate Change and Energy, Pál Kovács, commented, “Being the cheapest low carbon technology, nuclear energy may have a pivotal role in combating climate change in the future. In Hungary, nuclear energy will contribute significantly to the sustainability of energy supply, and due to its favourable costs, also to economic competitiveness.”

“In Hungary, nuclear energy will contribute significantly to the sustainability of energy supply, and due to its favourable costs, also to economic competitiveness.”

Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant has four operating VVER-440/213 reactors and a capacity of 2000 MW. The plant’s reactors were built in the 1980s based on Russian technology and were upgraded in 2005 to continue to serve well beyond their original lifespan. Building new reactors for the plant is under consideration.

Hungary’s energy strategy creates significant investment opportunities, for example in mining, equipment and technologies to promote more efficient energy production and distribution, and renewable energies, singled out as a key growth sector by investment promotion agency ITD Hungary.

In the mining sector, according to the Hungarian Mining and Geological Bureau, Hungary has around 10 billion tonnes of exploitable coal and lignite, only a fraction of which is currently being extracted. Hungary also has deposits of uranium, although domestic uranium mining has been dormant for over a decade.