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Czech Republic / Gov’t Takes Step Towards New Nuclear Plant At Dukovany

By David Dalton
28 April 2020

Unit could be in commercial operation in 2036, officials say
 Gov’t Takes Step Towards New Nuclear Plant At Dukovany
The Dukovany nuclear power station n the Czech Republic. Photo courtesy IAEA.
The Czech government has approved agreements with majority state-owned electricity producer ČEZ setting out the framework for building a new nuclear power plant at Dukovany to come online in 2036, state and company officials said.

The Czech government, which owns 70% of ČEZ, had been in discussions with the utility about how to expand nuclear power and to replace aging commercial reactors that are scheduled to be permanently shut down in the decades ahead.

The government wants to propose a financing model by the end of May, before the state goes into talks with the European Commission over the project.

Under the approved framework contracts, which industry minister Karel Havlíček wants to finalise with ČEZ by the end of June, ČEZ could sell the project to the state at various points.

A third contract still being prepared would lay out conditions under which the state could buy electricity from ČEZ and take the power price risk off the company.

Mr Havlíček was quoted in press reports as saying the price would be determined according to “justified costs and reasonable profit” for ČEZ.

He said the scheme being discussed was an “off-take contract”. The state would buy the power at a pre-agreed price and then sell it at the power exchange at a profit or loss, he said.

The government has estimated a new unit of about 1,200 MW would produce enough electricity to cover a tenth of annual consumption and would cost from €5.1bn-€5.9bn.

In March ČEZ filed for permission with the State Office for Nuclear Safety to build two new nuclear power plants at the Dukovany site, in the southeast of the country.

That followed approval by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in September 2019 of an environmental impact assessment for the construction of the two plants. The ministry said the approval was for up to 2,400 MW of new capacity.

Prime minister Andrej Babiš was quoted in local press reports last year as saying a technology supplier should be chosen by the end of 2022.

ČEZ chief executive Daniel Benes said last year the company should have a tender ready by June 2020 and expects offers in 2021 from up to five bidders.

According to media reports, six firms have shown interest in building the new nuclear unit or units. They are China’s CGN, Russia’s Rosatom, South Korea’s KHNP, France’s EDF, Westinghouse, and the Atmea consortium of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and EDF.

There are four Russia-designed VVER-440 reactor units at the Dukovany site and the government has said they should be replaced by new ones in about 20 to 30 years.

The Czech Republic has six commercially operational reactor units. In addition to the four units at Dukovany, there are two Russian VVER-1000 units at Temelín.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, in 2019 the six units provided about 35% of the country’s electricity production.

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