The Czech Republic has six nuclear power reactors in operation with a net capacity of 3,884 MW (see Table 8.33). The government has plan in the construction of two new nuclear power reactors in the near future with a total power capacity of 3,400 MWe.
Figure 8.48 shows a photograph of the Temelin nuclear power plant.
The Nuclear Energy Policy in the Czech Republic
According to Morales Pedraza (2012), the current energy policy of the Czech Republic with a horizon of 15–20 years was approved by the Czech government in January 2000. The compliance with the energy policy adopted is evaluated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade within intervals not longer than two years; the
Ministry informs the government on the evaluation results and proposes eventual modifications. The key strategic targets of the energy policy include the determination of the basic conception of long-term development of the energy sector and determination of the essential legislative and economic environment, which would encourage electricity generators and distributors to prefer environment-friendly behavior.
The energy policy adopted by the Czech government is a basic document indicating the targets in the area of energy management, according to the needs of economic and social development, including environmental protection. The long- term strategic targets of energy policy include a gradual reduction of the volumes of energy and raw materials needed by the Czech economy to meet the level of advanced industrial countries. The new sub-objectives up to 2020 on the demand side are given as follows:
• To remove price subsidies and distortions;
• To create competitive markets for electricity and gas;
• To achieve freedom of choice for consumers;
• To ensure energy efficiency enhancement.
At present, the state energy policy is focusing on harmonizing the Czech energy sector standards with those in the EU. According to IAEA information, the main changes and priorities of the current state energy policy in the Czech Republic (2004) are given below:
• Increasing energy efficiency of energy use;
• Protection of environment;
• Respect of the principles of sustainable development;
• Reliable and safe insurance of energy;
• Economic competitiveness;
• Rational introduction of new energy resources and identification of the role of domestic resources;
• Finalization of energy sector restructuring and privatization;
• Energy policy based on identical goals as the energy policy of the EU (Czech Republic-IAEA country file 2003).
On the consumption side, the long-term strategic targets of the energy policy include a gradual reduction of the volumes of energy and raw materials needed by the economy to the level of advanced industrialized countries. This target should be achieved, in particular, by a support to new production technologies with minimum need for energy and raw materials and with maximum utilization of the energy and raw materials through national work. In the tertiary sphere, the need for energy should be reduced, mainly, through support of programs leading to energy savings and to greater utilization of alternative energy and raw material sources in supplying the population with energy. The main open issues of the energy sector, including the proposed solutions, are given as follows:
• Adjustment of the prices of energy commodities and services and the tariff structure relating thereto (future development of the prices of electricity, natural gas, and centralized heating);
• Procedure of the privatization of the state ownership interests in the key energy companies while maintaining a reasonable state influence;
• Laying down the rules for the development of the internal electricity and gas market (on the basis of EU directives);
• Creating a well-functioning, non-discriminatory, transparent, and motivating system of support for possible energy savings, use of renewable resources and electricity and heat generation units;
• Nuclear power (Czech Republic-IAEA country file 2003).
Environmental protection in the energy area has been mostly focused on the removal of environmental damage, especially the damage caused by extremely high emissions of pollutants discharged into the air. Successive implementation in the coal-fired power plants of de-sculpturing and de-nitrifying projects, as well as installation of equipment to separate dust has been carried out in the energy sector. It is important to highlight that due to specific environmental measures adopted by the Czech government, today the country power generation meets the limits defined in the Clean Air Act (Act 309/1991).
The 2004 new state energy policy envisaged building two or more large nuclear power reactors, probably at the Temelin nuclear power plant site, eventually to replace old nuclear power reactors at the Dukovany nuclear power plant. In July 2008, CEZ announced a plan to build two more reactors at Temelin nuclear power plant totaling up to 3,400 MW, with construction start in 2013 and commissioning of the first unit in 2020. In mid-2008, CEZ asked the Environment Ministry for an environmental assessment for the new units.
In March 2010, CEZ announced that discussions had begun with three candi- dates prior to the bid submission. The three vendor groups are: a consortium led by WESTINGHOUSE with 1,230 MWe gross (1,140 MWe net) AP1000; a ŠKODA JS/ATOMSTROYEXPORT/OKB GIDROPRESS consortium with AES- 2006/MIR-1200 of 1,158 MWe gross (1,078 MWe net); and AREVA with 1,750 MWe gross (1,650 MWe net) EPR. Bids were formally invited by CEZ in October 2011 for supply of two complete nuclear power units on a full turnkey basis, including nuclear fuel supply for nine years of operation. The designs pro- posed must be licensed in the vendors’ home countries or in an EU member state and must comply with Czech and EU requirements and safety requirements defined by the IAEA and the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association. Bids were submitted on July 2012, and the contract was to be signed late in 2013, but was then deferred for about 18 months, to mid-2015 and following completion of a new energy strategy by the new government. ROSATOM, through RUSATOM OVERSEAS, has offered full vendor financing, though it would prefer 49 %. AREVA and WESTINGHOUSE originally said that they were not interested in any financing or operational aspects, but in mid-2013 the US Export-Import Bank offered to lend CEZ half the cost of the plant, if it used WESTINGHOUSE technology. The loan would be for 25 years at one percentage point above US 10-year treasury bonds. CEZ has said it would seek a strategic partner with which to share the risk of the project, following the choice of reactor technology.
In November 2102, CEZ applied to the Czech State Office of Nuclear Safety (SUJB) to build two new units at the Temelin nuclear power plant. In January 2013, the government gave environmental approval for the two units. In March 2014, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that it was considering forming a wholly state-owned company to build Temelin 3 and 4 and then lease them to CEZ, this being seen as more practical than the UK policy of long-term pricing involving cost-difference guarantee. In April 2014, following government con- firmation that it would not provide any future price guarantees, CEZ informed WESTINGHOUSE, the Russian-SKODA consortium and AREVA that it had canceled the procurement process in accordance with the Public Procurement Act.
The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Trade and Industry are to prepare a plan by the end of 2014 for the development of nuclear power in the country, which is supported in principle by the government in its new draft energy policy. New bids are expected early in 2015, and Korea Electric Power Co (KEPCO) has announced its intention to bid. In August 2014, China’s Deputy Prime Minister expressed interest in the project on behalf of his country. In September 2014, WESTINGHOUSE offered to the Czech authorities the possibility of vendor equity as in the UK, where parent company TOSHIBA has 60 % equity in the Moorside AP1000 project.
A feasibility study for a new reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power plant is in progress, and CEZ has said it is likely to ask for an environmental assessment when this is completed.
Electricity Generation Using Nuclear Energy
Electricity consumption in the Czech Republic has grown since 1994. In 2005, a total of 82 TWh was generated, more than half from coal, which is still the main energy source in the final energy consumption in the country. In 2007, this produc- tion was almost the same (81 TWh). In 2013, the total production of electricity in the country reached 80,858.20 GWh, a little bit lower than in 2007. In 2002, nuclear power provided 24.5 % of the total electricity production in the country. In 2005, the production was 23.3 TWh, which represents 31 % of the net total of electricity produced in the Czech Republic. In 2006, this share was 31.5 %, almost similar to 2005 but, in 2007, went down to 30.3 % (20.1 TWh). In 2008, nuclear share was 32.45 % a little bit higher than in 2007. In 2013, the generation of elec- tricity using nuclear energy represented 35.87 % of the total. This percentage is 3.42 % higher than in 2008.
According to Fig. 8.49, the generation of electricity using nuclear energy in the Czech Republic during the period 2002–2013 increased 11.37 %. It is expected that the participation of nuclear energy in the generation of electricity in the coun- try will increase during the coming years, if the decision to build two nuclear power reactors adopted by the government is implemented in the future.
The evolution of the nuclear capacity in the Czech Republic during the period 1990–2013 is shown in Fig. 8.50.
According to Morales Pedraza (2012), there is a majority of the Czech population that supports the use of nuclear energy for the production of electricity in the coun- try. However, the people that support the construction of new nuclear power reac- tors do not reach 50 %. In February 2007, a Czech public opinion agency (STEM) organized a poll among 1,222 respondents with an age over 18. The result of the poll shows that after a temporary decrease in the support of the use of nuclear energy for the production of electricity during the period 2003–2005, the percent- age of people who back a continuous development of the nuclear power sector in the Czech Republic has reached 60 %. According to the results of the poll, roughly one-sixth of the adult Czech population supports the use of nuclear energy for the production of electricity. This support varies slightly depending on the respondents’ age and education (its increase slightly with higher education and with age). Among men and women, the situation is the following: 65 % of men support further development of the nuclear power sector in the country in the coming years, while 52 % of women do so. However, the numbers of respondents, who are in favor of the construction of new nuclear power reactors for the electricity production, is only 46 %.
Another problem that the Czech’s government has to face is the opposition of the public opinion, not only within the country, but also in some neighboring countries as well, particularly Austria, to the conclusion of the construction of the Temelin nuclear power plant. During the 1990s, the Temelin project has aroused concern primarily because it will be an untried combination of old Soviet technology and new Western technology and because of its proximity to other countries.33 Situated only 100 km from the Austrian border, nuclear fallout stemming from the Temelin nuclear power plant would have devastating trans-boundary effects in Austria and, for sure, in other neighboring countries as well. Austria has attempted several times to persuade the Czech Republic to stop the operation of the Temelin nuclear power plant without success. However, the signature of the Melk Protocol by the Austrian and Czech highest authorities regarding the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation in the Czech Republic reduced the tension between these two countries.
The Chernobyl nuclear accident, its far-reaching consequences, and the fact that the reactors lie on the edge of an active seismic zone have fueled the growing opposition to the operation of the Temelin nuclear power plant. The opposition to this project argues that the norms used during an important phase of the construc- tion of the Temelin nuclear power plant were not the same as in the West and that energy saving measures that could be adopted by the Czech’s government would be safer and cheaper than completing the Temelin nuclear power plant. A study conducted by a Belgian consulting firm found that the Temelin nuclear power plant, which will produce 2,000 MW of electricity, is the cheapest method for pro- ducing electricity now available in the country, but that energy efficiency could save 3,500 MW of electricity, this means 1,500 MW more that the electricity that will be produced by the Temelin nuclear power plant.
It is important to highlight that the decision to expand the Temelin nuclear power plant was made despite a significant decline in the demand for power in recent years. In addition, a World Bank report indicated that between 1995 and 2010, there is a possibility that no increase in the demand for electricity occurred throughout Europe. Nonetheless, the nuclear industry expects that the demand of electricity grows annually by 2 % during the coming years.
Finally, it is important to highlight also that a public tender process for contrac- tors to build the two new nuclear power reactors at Temelin nuclear power plant commenced August 2009. At the time, CEZ quoted a March public opinion poll showing 77 % of citizens (and 56 % of Green Party voters) supporting the new units (In 2014, 68 % positive opinion was reported.).
According to Morales Pedraza (2012), the future development of the energy power sector in the Czech Republic is based on the following premises:
• Continued operation of the Dukovany nuclear power plant without limitation over the whole time horizon;
• All of the existing and newly built nuclear power reactors and conventional
power and heating plants are, or will be, equipped with facilities for the protection of the environment, as required by the laws in force. No new large hydro- power plants are planned to be built because the potential of this type of energy source is already utilized at a high rate;
• Greater usage of renewable energy sources will be stimulated by the 2014 State Program of Energy Savings and Usage of Renewable Sources. The spectrum of such sources includes both the traditional ones—mainly the small hydropower plants—and a wide range of their sources (biomass, wind energy, heat pumps, and also geothermal energy and solar energy). Energy saving programs will be strongly supported;
• The general electricity generation system will rely on nuclear energy, on the exhaustion of the remaining reserves of coal, on the use of gas in cogenerating units, on the current level of electricity generation in hydropower plants, and on support to more intensive usage of renewable resources;
• The limited domestic availability of coal will not enable the existing coal-fired
power plants to continue operating once their de-sulfuring units past their useful life. In the period of 2008–2020, it will be possible to retrofit only part of the existing capacity of the traditional coal-fired power plants, extending their useful life by another 15 years or so (until 2030–2035);
• The scenario does not reckon with the possibility of releasing part of the coal reserves to which the environmental limits apply, hence, no new large power generating units, which would use domestically extracted coal, are planned to be built.
It follows from what has been said in the previous paragraphs that any new power plants, which will be built after 2015 (2020) will have to use energy primary sources other than national available coal. These may include, in the case of public acceptance, several nuclear units as a stabilizing element of the national electricity system (Czech Republic-IAEA country file 2003).
The 2004 State Energy Policy envisages building two or more large nuclear power reactors, probably at the Temelin nuclear power plant, eventually to replace Dukovany old nuclear power reactors after 2020. Plans announced in June 2006 envisage one 1,500 MW unit at the Temelin nuclear power plant after 2020 and a second to follow. However, in light of the country’s large excess of base-load electricity generation capacity, new nuclear power plant in additional to the current num- ber of nuclear power reactors in operation is very unlikely to be built before 2020.
On the other hand, it is important to highlight that the Czech nuclear industry was involved in the production of different components for its nuclear power plants already built, including vessel and control rod drive mechanism, and is also capable to produce almost all of the main components of WWER reactors design. The Czech industry is also the main nuclear supplier to other Eastern European countries.
Lastly, it is important to note that the authorities of the Bohemian’s region in which the Temelin nuclear power plant is located have reached an agreement with the state company CEZ by which the prohibition adopted in 2004 to build new nuclear power plants was canceled. In compensation, CEZ will give to the region US$200 million for infrastructure works up to 2018.
Undoubtedly, the Czech Republic should speed development of new nuclear power units that will generate half the country’s future electricity demand by building new nuclear power reactors at the Temelin and Dukovany power plants. The center-left government, which took power this year, is due to discuss the revised energy strategy to 2040 in order to adopt it as soon as possible. A strategy document said the state should support and speed up building new blocks in existing locations with a combined capacity of up to 2,500 MW.
The Czech government has long sought to boost the share of nuclear power from around one-third of its electricity output despite neighboring Germany’s decision to turn away from atomic energy following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 and the strong opposition of Austria to expand the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation in the country. The updated energy strategy also leaves open the question of financing new units, an issue important for majority state-owned utility CEZ’s plans to build new nuclear power reactors. CEZ scrapped a tender worth more than US$10 billion in April 2014 to expand Temelin nuclear power plant because of low wholesale power prices and the state’s refusal to provide price guarantees. Industry Minister Jan Mladek has talked about building one new block each at the Dukovany and Temelin nuclear power plants. He has also floated the option of a new state entity building the units and leasing them for use after that.
The state energy strategy suggested nuclear power should be a pillar that could generate around 50 % of the country’s power generation. The state should look at extending the life of Dukovany nuclear power plant by 50–60 years, the document found.