Temelin expansion looking increasingly unlikely
Plans to build two more reactors at the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia are looking increasingly unlikely be realized. Incoming prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in an interview this week that his government would not offer guarantees on the purchase price of electricity from the new reactors which alone would make the estimated $15 billion project economically feasible.
Jan Mladek, slated to be country’s next industry minister, has likewise said he cannot envisage approving the expansion without such high price guarantees. He did, however, describe the Temelin expansion as a classic investment which would fit in with the proposed government’s plans of boosting Czech economic growth.
The outcome to the Temelin saga is likely to come later rather than sooner. The new centre-left government is slated to still decide on the country’s new long- term energy strategy, and according to the prime minister in waiting is not under any pressure to make a quick decision.
CEZ has now postponed a final decision on the plant until mid 2015 and company officials have noted that even if they sign a contract with a supplier to build the reactors the company still has a four-year-window during which it can back out of the agreement with minimal financial losses.
Electricity prices have fallen in the last years amid low European demand and the obligation to use electricity from renewable sources. So CEZ fears the project might not make economic sense. Green groups opposed to nuclear power argue that new nuclear capacity is not needed in the Czech Republic because it is already a major exporter of electricity.
The two companies vying for the Temelin contract, Westinghouse Electric LLC and a Russian-Czech consortium led by Rosatom submitted final updates to their binding bids in December, but they appear no nearer to winning the final contract. In sharp contrast to these gloomy outlooks for Temelin’s expansion, is the sound of wedding bells in the shade of its cooling towers. A PR stunt launched by the company in 2006 has taken off and some couples, who apparently firmly believe in the future of nuclear power, choose to take their wedding vows at this unusual location.