Modernisation projects under way at Czech plants

15 February 2023

Czech energy company ČEZ is making investments at both its Dukovany and Temelín nuclear power plants to allow their long-term operation. A contract with Framatome will see the modernisation of the existing instrumentation and control (I&C) Spinline testers for safety systems at the four units at Dukovany.

The Dukovany plant (Image: ČEZ)

Earlier this month, ČEZ said it will invest more than CZK2.3 billion (USD104 million) at the Dukovany plant, mainly aimed at ensuring "safe and reliable operation until at least 2047". All four units are also switching to 16-month fuel cycles. The amount being spent in the coming year is about CZK500 million more than the previous year.

Under a newly announced contract, Framatome's engineering specialists will redesign, manufacture, validate and install the new Spinline testers at the Dukovany units.

Spinline is a modular digital solution for safety I&C systems. It is specifically designed to implement the safety functions that are critical for the performance and reliability of nuclear power plants, such as the reactor protection system, reactor trip system, engineered safety features actuation system and the neutron instrumentation system.

The first installation of new Spinline testers at Dukovany is scheduled in mid-2024 during a planned outage of unit 2. This project is the first step in the comprehensive modernisation of the existing Spinline safety I&C platform that will allow ČEZ to operate Framatome systems until 2045.

"We commend ČEZ for its high standards of safety and vigilance in fortifying the long-term operations of one of its largest, most reliable and economically advantageous energy sources," said Frédéric Lelièvre, senior executive vice president, Sales, Regional Platforms and the I&C Business Unit at Framatome. "Our teams will deliver this project with the level of commitment to safety and operational excellence that is the foundation of our strong and long lasting relation with ČEZ."

"The final objective of the Spinline testers renovation and subsequent modernisation activities is to ensure safe and reliable I&C systems operations," said Bohdan Zronek, chief nuclear officer of ČEZ and member of the board of directors. "This contract is built on more than 10 years of successful cooperation between ČEZ and Framatome on Spinline support and services."

Four VVER-440 units are currently in operation at the Dukovany site, which began operating between 1985 and 1987.

Temelín investments

ČEZ has announced it is investing CZK3.6 billion this year in the modernisation of the Temelín plant to prepare it for at least 60 years of operation.

Key projects include extending the fuel campaign, modernising control systems and preparing for a generator replacement. In total, ČEZ has planned 271 investment events for the Temelín plant this year - 46 more than last year.

ČEZ plans to extend the operating cycle at Temelín from the current one year to about 18 months.

"Of course, this was preceded by a number of analyses and assessments. However, we are following the majority of power plants in the world that are already working in this cycle," Zronek noted. He added: "Extending fuel cycles is not only related to increasing efficiency, but longer fuel campaigns also mean, for example, less load due to cooling and opening of the equipment."

Since the start of operation, ČEZ has invested over CZK28 billion in the modernisation of Temelín.

Two VVER-1000 units are in operation at Temelín, which came into operation in 2000 and 2002.

"We want to keep both Czech nuclear power plants in the best possible condition," Zronek said. "Continuous modernisation and increasing efficiency is the way to achieve this. Key projects await us in this direction in the coming years."

The Czech Republic already uses nuclear power for 34% of its electricity, generating this from four reactors at Dukovany and two at Temelín. ČEZ is currently evaluating bids from Westinghouse, EDF and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power for the construction of a new reactor at Dukovany. Near Temelín, an area has been designated the South Bohemia Nuclear Park and earmarked for small reactors to operate in the early 2030s. The company said last month that, with the planned new build, it expected to almost double its nuclear workforce in the coming years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News