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Palkovics: Hungary energy dependency significantly reduced

Hungary's energy dependency has dropped significantly in the recent period, the minister of technology and industry said on Tuesday. In his opening address at the 52nd International Gas Conference in Siofok, in western Hungary, Laszlo Palkovics said that ten years ago Hungary only had two gas transmission stations. Now, only in the direction of Slovenia is a gas transmission station not operational despite the existing infrastructure, he added.

“Currently a reduced amount of natural gas is flowing in from the north and east, but long-term natural gas purchase contracts and market conditions enable us to acquire all the natural gas we need,” he added.

Hungary’s natural gas storage capacities were at 72 percent on Monday, he said.

According to the best-case scenario, commercial gas deliveries from the south would be sufficient for Hungary to manage the heating season up until sometime in March, though in any case the country by now has enough gas in storage for the winter to be manageable, he said.

Hungary’s electricity network is hooked up to all surrounding countries with adequate bandwidth and stable supplies, he said.

Furthermore, with the right quantity and quality of crude arriving through the Druzhba pipeline, Hungary can replace the amount taken out of its strategic stockpile, he added.

Palkovics said that a review of Hungary’s energy strategy was under way, with the headline aim of reducing the proportion of natural gas in the energy mix. At present, gas in addition to gas-powered district heating and electricity production accounts for 44-45 percent of the total. By 2050, hopefully gas will only be used to offset weather-dependent, renewable energy sources, he added.

Palkovics said that to satisfy growing demand for electricity, the network would have to undergo major development, with gains in energy efficiency a priority.

Fully 31 projects worth 16 billion euros are currently planned, with 11 billion to be set aside for upgrading the electricity network, he said. Projects include extending the Paks nuclear power plant by 20 years and upgrading the Matra power plant.

Plans also include increasing domestic natural gas production from the current 1.5 billion cubic meters per year to 2 billion cubic meters, while possible shale gas extraction in the south of the country is also being assessed.

Palkovics said solar power plant capacity had grown faster than planned. By 2025, 8 gigawatt capacity will be available, while this may rise to 12 gigawatts by 2028. The network will have to be upgraded at a pace which makes it possible for this energy to enter the network, he added.

The government also has wind energy on its agenda, he said, adding that the advantage of wind is that a 4-megawatt wind farm takes up far less space than a solar farm of the same capacity.

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