Czech minister announces fresh impetus for nuclear

26 January 2017

Jan Mládek, the Czech Republic's trade and industry minister, announced yesterday the creation of three working groups of the Standing Committee for Nuclear Energy. The three will each be responsible for financial, legal and technical-investment strategies. In a statement on the ministry's website, Mládek said the move would give "new impetus" to the implementation of the State Energy Policy (SEP) for the development of nuclear energy agreed by the government in 2015.

The Czech Republic has six nuclear units at two sites - Dukovany and Temelín - with an installed capacity of 3924 MWe and electricity generation of 26.8 TWh, which is up 8.5% since 2005. Nuclear accounts for 32.5% of the country's electricity generation.

The ministry's SEP, which the cabinet approved in June 2015, foresees one new unit at Dukovany, and possibly three more at the two sites. It recommended that power utility CEZ creates a subsidiary company to prepare construction plans and explore options for financing the new reactors, even though the first might not be approved until 2025. A decision on power pricing from the new plant is expected this year.

The 2015 SEP reiterated most of the policy presented in 2012 - one new reactor at Dukovany and two at Temelín, but without any state guarantee on electricity prices. The policy is explicitly part of the country's commitment to a European Union target for cutting carbon emissions.

Nuclear is expected to become the main source of electricity production with its share rising to between 46% and 58% in 2040. The share of lignite is expected to fall to no more than 21%, while renewables could provide 25% and gas 15%. New nuclear capacity of 2500 MWe is to be added by 2035, and more thereafter. Four years' fuel reserve is called for.

In January last year, the government set up a new committee headed by the prime minister to coordinate the development of nuclear power in the country. A new nuclear envoy is to serve as the main coordinator for these developments. The committee will be responsible for new construction, supply chain, wastes, and legislation to move the nuclear sector forward.

The feasibility study for a new reactor at Dukovany is in progress, and last year CEZ asked the Environment Ministry for an environmental assessment for two new units. Application for a construction permit is envisaged in 2025.

The 2015 SEP for nuclear stated that Dukovany 5 has priority over Temelín in order to maintain production at the site after the old reactors are retired in about 2037.

In October last year, Rusatom Overseas submitted to the government and CEZ an offer to build a VVER-1200 reactor at Dukovany. Five other companies have also submitted offers: EDF/Areva, Atmea, China General Nuclear, Korea HNP and Westinghouse.

Last month, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the Czech Republic needs to decide on the mechanisms for financing the construction and operation of new nuclear power plants "as soon as possible". Speaking at the launch in Prague of the Energy Policies of IEA Countries: Czech Republic 2016 Review on 13 December, Fatih Birol noted that nuclear is "one of the major pillars" of the SEP, targeting the expansion of Czech nuclear energy capacity in order to strengthen energy independence and security of supply.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News