Tender for new nuclear unit in Dukovany launched after years of delays

The Czech power utility ČEZ has launched a tender for the construction of a new nuclear unit at the Dukovany power plant. The new unit should be completed by 2036 and will be the biggest investment in the country’s modern history.

Dukovany nuclear power plant | Photo: René Volfík,  iROZHLAS.cz

The long-awaited tender was launched on Thursday with the consent of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. ČEZ plans to sign a contract with the winner within two years. Construction of the new unit could begin in 2029, with trial operation set to start seven years later.

Three companies are in the running for the contract, having passed a security appraisal: France’s EDF, KHNP from South Korea and Westinghouse of the US. Russia and China were side-lined from the tender due to security risks. The riskiness of the current bidders and their subcontractors will be regularly assessed.

Speaking at the official launch of the tender on Thursday, Trade Minister Síkela said the conditions of the tender also stipulate the highest possible involvement of Czech companies in the project:

Jozef Síkela | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“According to preliminary requirements, the participation of Czech companies may reach up to 65 percent of the total supply. Czech companies will participate in projects worth tens of billions of crowns.”

According to Prime Minister Petr Fiala, the construction of the new unit is a key project in terms of the Czech Republic’s energy self-sufficiency. However, nuclear expert Edvard Sequens does not share Mr Fiala’s optimism.

Speaking in an interview for Czech Radio, he pointed out that the country was still far too dependent on supplies of nuclear fuel from Russia:

Edvard Sequens | Photo: Khalil Baalbaki,  Czech Radio

“Self-sufficiency is a tricky term, given how dependent we are on nuclear fuel imports. I hope that the supplies from Russia, which now supplies both Temelín and Dukovany, will end soon, but the dependency on import will remain.

“I think that in the first place, Czechia needs to deal with the replacement of Russian gas. Second, it needs to address the decommissioning of fossil fuels. These are all pressing tasks that cannot be solved by the construction of new reactors.”

The new Dukovany unit is estimated to cost around CZK 160 billion, but according to Petr Leyer, head of the Czech branch of Transparency International, such a price is highly unrealistic.

Photo: René Volfík,  iROZHLAS.cz

The anti-corruption watchdog has also been criticizing the government for lack of transparency and communication surrounding the tender.

Nuclear power plants currently produce about a third of all electricity generated in the Czech Republic. Last year, Dukovany and Temelín delivered 30.73 terawatt hours of electricity to the transmission system, an increase of three percent on the previous year.

Authors: Ruth Fraňková , Daniela Tollingerová
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