Negotiations with foreign vendors on the construction of nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic

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Negotiations with foreign vendors on the construction of nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic

Between January 26 and February 10, 2017, consultations took place with six contenders for the construction of reactors in the country. The vendors are companies as follows: ATMEA (joint project of Mitsubishi and AREVA NP), China General Nuclear Power Corporation, AREVA NP / Electricité de France, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Corporation) , Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation (Russia) and Toshiba / Westinghouse Electric Company (USA).

Negotiations preceded to tender, without which the Czech Republic (unlike Hungary) will not build the generation 3+ reactors, but which has yet to be announced. Firstly, the Czech Republic wants to seek a waiver from the European Union because it does not want to apply the Public Procurement Act to its fullest extent. In order to achieve this it must be proven that CEZ has not such a dominant position on the Czech market so that it could manipulate electricity prices. Nuclear lobbyists argue that plans to build reactors have 3-4 years of delay. Therefore, the nuclear industry and politicians are working together to change the legislation (specifically the Building Act), which would allow them to catch up with delays by up to 3 years. If the changes pass, it will be allowed to site a nuclear power plant even before it is known what kind of technology would be chosen for it. Contract with a vendor is supposed to be signed in 2022. Meanwhile, Government Commissioner for Nuclear Energy Jan Štuller considers it necessary to keep the Czech nuclear industry in good shape in electrical and mechanical fields and instrumentation and control systems, as he sees good chances for Czech firms in supply of larger machine components, especially for the secondary circuit of nuclear power plants, abroad.

According to Štuller all foreign bidders for the construction of nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic are willing to participate in construction financing (and, if necessary, investing in two subsidiaries of CEZ, which were created in order to build reactors). At the same time suppliers indicate that they will not be able to realize this project without government involvement. Also, everybody wants to involve Czech companies in the construction of new reactors in Dukovany and Temelin NPP in terms of supplies for reactors being built in the Czech Republic and exports of Czech components to third markets (the only Czech producer of components such as the reactor internal components, which is capable of supplying products to the domestic and foreign markets nowadays, is a joint-stock company Skoda JS).

There are actually 7 reactors on offer since the Korean KHNP comes with two types of reactors - APR-1400 and problematic APR-1000. CGN proposes a Hualong reactor, to which no evaluation has been carried out by the Czech nuclear industry yet. Westinghouse presents that it will ensure the overall coordination of projects to build nuclear power plants and use subcontractors to supply technology. ATMEA is the only one of the candidates, which has not built any reactor so far. For Štuller this does not represent an obstacle, since the construction of the reactors are considered in 2025 at the earliest, and until then, even ATMEA should have its reactor constructed.

Stephen Thomas of Greenwich University sees the project ATMEA as an outsider, mainly because the company has currently “no orders and has not been reviewed by any regulatory body”. In addition, the AREVA NP / EDF and Toshiba / Westinghouse are in financial trouble. Thus it seems like that only CGN, KHNP / KEPCO and Rosatom will stay in the game. However, the Chinese vendor has got problems with components’ quality and the Korean bidder (in addition to the same issue) also falsified inspection reports in the past. The Russian VVER-1200 is too expensive and there are construction delays.

Olga Kališová, Calla (March 17, 2017)