Czech power company ČEZ announced that it is shutting down two of the four nuclear reactors at its Dukovany site for checks on the safety of welds to piping during recent repairs. The shutdown of the second bloc Thursday and third bloc on Friday combined with other outages at the power plant and at the Temelín complex mean that around half of the operator’s nuclear capacity will be out of action. Other power sources at the company’s disposal will be called on and no shortage is threatened, a company spokeswoman said. The Czech Republic was unusually forced to import power last week when nuclear and coal fired power plants were shut.
The Czech Republic which had to start importing electricity on Friday after the closure of the Temelín nuclear power plant says the country is once again self-sufficient after the brown coal-plant in Chvaletice was able to partly renew production. The Czech Republic exports electricity, but was forced to revert to imports for 15 hours on Friday after the second rector of the Temelín power plant was disconnected from the grid due to a fault in the non-nuclear part of the plant. The 2,000 megawat plant is the biggest source of electricity in the country and covers a fifth of overall consumption. The coal plant Chvaletice which was also closed for repairs produces 3,5 percent of overall consumption.
There are seven potential sites in the Czech Republic which could one day house a deep geological repository for the permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel. Recently, elected officials from local municipalities had a chance to visit just such an installation – which will be the first in the world – under construction in Finland. It is thought the Finnish repository could serve as a model for the Czech Republic’s own.
The second reactor at the Temelín nuclear reactor was disconnected from the power grid early Wednesday morning after a fault was discovered in the cooling system outside the core reactor. The fault is centred on one of six cables taking power from the reactor. The 1078 MW capacity reactor is expected to be operational again at the start of next week. The second reactor has recently returned from an unscheduled shutdown due to problems with the steam generator with production resumed on July 31.
The behavior of Russian power giants Gazprom and Rosatom has been the subject of an in-depth Czech report which has produced some mixed findings about the state of energy security in the region. The results fed into a multinational conference about what risks the state-owned Russian companies posed on the power market.
The minister of industry and trade, Jan Mládek, wants to set up a government-run company to build nuclear power stations in the Czech Republic, Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday. However, the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš of ANO, wants semi-state power giant CEZ to bear responsibility for the huge investments in the Temelín nuclear power plant and elsewhere, the newspaper said; Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Mr. Mládek’s Social Democrats party colleague, is inclined towards Mr. Babiš’s position. CEZ last year cancelled tender processes for the construction of reactors at Temelín after the government refused to guarantee stable electricity purchase prices.
A majority of Czechs have a positive attitude towards nuclear energy, according to a poll carried out by the CVVM agency in May. Some 45 percent of people are happy with the current state of the country’s nuclear power capacity and 22 percent are in favour of its expansion. Just over 20 percent of respondents said they would like to reduce the use of nuclear power. The poll also suggested that nearly 50 percent of respondents would like to see another two reactors added to the country’s two unit Temelín nuclear power station.
The Czech Cabinet Wednesday cleared a long term plan for the development of the nuclear sector. The plan counts on at least one new nuclear reactor being built at the current Dukovany and Temelín sites, with four new reactors in the long term likely sprouting at the two locations. Priority for construction will be given to the Dukovany site, where the first of its four reactors will probably close in 2035. The plan says that a decision on a final go ahead for the first new reactors can wait till 2025 when the electricity prices might have recovered enough to make state support unnecessary.
While the main spotlight in the Czech Republic is on financing new nuclear reactors, the question of covering the costs of dismantling the old ones once their operation lifetime is over is also looming large. And according to some experts and international comparisons, the Czech Republic could be looking a bit underfunded when the final bills for decommissioning reactors and dealing with highly radioactive waste start to be presented.