Austria is taking steps to ban imports of nuclear produced electricity with Germany to possibly follow suit. But can such steps, which would have a direct impact on Czech state-controlled power company ČEZ and its plans for more nuclear capacity, really be effective or allowed? Vratislav Ludvík examines the possible scenarios of how this could work out in practice and the impact on the Czech power market.
On top of current annual spending of around Kč 2.5 billion on nuclear safety, Czech state-controlled power company ČEZ plans to plough some Kč 2 billion more into protecting the two Czech nuclear plants, Dukovany and Temelín, against natural occurrences such as earthquakes, hurricanes and extreme floods, the daily Lidové noviny (LN) reported Wednesday.
Rusatom Overseas, the foreign marketing arm of Russian state nuclear construction company Rosatom, has upped the pressure on its two rival bidders to build two new reactors at Temelín by saying it can finance the whole project if need be. Areva of France and Westinghouse, a US unit of Japan’s Toshiba, have refused to give such a commitment. The move puts pressure on ČEZ and the Czech state if financing becomes the key issue for Temelín’s expansion.
Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Martin Kuba (ODS) has done little to shed light on how the government might give a helping hand for state-controlled energy giant ČEZ to fund construction of two new nuclear reactors at Temelín. No state guarantees for loans or guaranteed prices for nuclear-produced power are currently on offer and no decision curbing the state's dividend haul from the company has been taken either, he admitted.
A possible nuclear energy splurge in the Czech Republic no longer looks on the cards over the next half century with Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba saying one scenario for 18 new nuclear reactors producing 80 percent of the country’s electricity belongs in the fiction section. Kuba is tasked with drawing up the country's long term energy plans, now likely to be delivered mid-year.
The message making the rounds in the Czech media is that we are the third most-successful country in achieving nuclear safety. This information is complete nonsense. The cited ranking — issued on January 11 from the American group the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), which monitors the security of nuclear materials from the standpoint of abuse — has little in common with safety of atomic power plants.
In addition to building two new reactors at the Temelín nuclear power plant, the Czech government is contemplating proposals to make nuclear power the source of up to 80 percent of the country’s energy. Such a strategy would require building more nuclear plants, and a report reviewed by the government on Wednesday says military training grounds are the most-suitable potential sites.
The contract to build two new reactor blocks at the Temelín nuclear power plant promises to be the largest tender in Czech history and one of the largest civil engineering projects in the EU in the coming years. With the tender documentation due to be issued on Oct. 31, the three bidders are stepping up their PR campaigns; earlier this week we spoke with Rosatom, and now with Areva.
Czechs with a pro-nuclear power stance have welcomed news that the number two at the Czech nuclear safety watchdog, the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB), Petr Krs, has been given a key role in EU stress tests of atomic plants (with a Frenchman in the top spot). But environmentalists and green groups just see it as confirmation that the evaluation process has been rigged in advance.
Japan’s Fukishima nuclear power plant accident sparked pressure to close the Czech Republic’s oldest and biggest nuclear power plant, Dukovany. The pressure is still ongoing with the country needing to convince European Commission officials the Soviet-designed power plant is safe. Plant operator ČEZ wants a 10-year extension for the four units at Dukovany when they start to expire in 2015.