Nuclear Power in Czech Republic
(Updated August 2014)
- The Czech Republic has six nuclear reactors generating about one-third of its electricity.
- Its first commercial nuclear power reactor began operating in 1985.
- Government commitment to the future of nuclear energy is strong.
- Plans for new nuclear capacity are stalled.
In 2012, 87.6 billion kWh was generated from 20.2 GWe of plant, of which 46.8 billion kWh (53.4%) was from coal, 30.3 billion kWh (34.5%) from nuclear, with net exports of 17 billion kWha. Installed electrical capacity from renewables has been rapidly increasing since 2000band in mid-2013 the cost of subsidizing these had risen to CZK 44 billion (EUR 1.7 billion) per year. Per capita consumption is about 5400 kWh/yr. More than 80% of the country's gas comes from Russia.
A 2011 draft national energy policy to 2060 involved a major increase in nuclear power, to 13.9 GWe or up to 18.9 GWe in the case of major adoption of electric vehicles. It would then provide some 60% of the country's power. The version adopted in November 2012 assumed at least 50% from nuclear, with two new reactors being built at Temelin and one at Dukovany to take production to 46.5 TWh by 2025, and 55.2 TWh/yr later, hence further nuclear sites should be identified and prepared. The current four at Dukovany would get 20-year life extensions, to 2045-47. Coal use is to decrease to one third of present level by 2040, gas-fired power is to increase, and support for renewables will reduce dramatically by 2014. Nuclear plants should furnish district heating to Brno and other cities by 2030.
Operating Czech power reactors
Nuclear industry development
In 1958, the Czechoslovak government started building its first nuclear power plant – a gas-cooled heavy water reactor at Bohunice (now in Slovakia). This 110 MWe net Bohunice A1 reactor, built by Skoda, was completed in 1972 and ran until 1977. Construction on four VVER-440 reactors at Bohunice commenced in the 1970s and the units put into operation by the mid-1980s (see page on Nuclear Power in Slovakia).
In 1978, construction commenced on the Dukovany plant – the first nuclear plant in what is now the Czech Republic. The four VVER-440 model V-213 reactors were designed by Russian organizations and Energoprojekt and built by Skoda Praha. These came in to commercial operation 1985-87 and have been upgraded since.
In 1982, work started on the Temelin plant (also in what is now the Czech Republic), designed by Russian organizations and Energoprojekt and built by VSBc with engineering by Skoda Praha. Planned as a four unit VVER-1000 model V-320 plant, full construction on units 1 & 2 commenced in 1987. However, following the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the new democratic government decided in 1990 to suspend construction on units 3 and 4. At the time there were several protests against the plant and some political wavering over the plant's future, although construction continued on units 1 & 2 to some extent. Then, with the splitting of Czechoslovakia, the new government of the Czech Republic formally decided in March 1993 to complete units 1 & 2. Following a call for tenders, Westinghouse was chosen to replace the entire instrumentation and control (I&C) systems – the first time that Western digital I&C was integrated with Russian reactor technologyd – and the radiation monitoring and diagnostic systems1. In addition, Westinghouse was to supply the fuel (initial core and four reloads). The reactors started up in 2000 and 2003, with the upgrading having been financed by operator CEZ with a loan from the World Bank.
Heat from Temelin is already supplied to a local town 5 km away (171 TJ in 2009), and CEZ is examining plans to use it for the city of Ceske Budejovice, 20 km away. Another project is to pipe heat 40 km from Dukovany to Brno, and an environmental impact assessment for this was lodged in July 2010, which is expected to take up to two years to evaluate. CEZ expects to be able to supply two thirds of the city's heat needs of about 3700 TJ/yr.
In 2012 Temelin produced 15.3 billion kWh, 20% of total domestic power, and Dukovany produced 14.8 billion kWh. Since mid year Temelin was operating at about 100 MWe below capacity as instructed by grid operator CEPS because of grid security issues caused by power surges due to renewable power production in Germany.
CEZ a.s., which owns and operates both the Dukovany and Temelin plants, is almost 70% state-ownede.
Plant uprates and lifetime extension
All four Dukovany units were uprated from 440 to 456 MWe gross over 2005-08 by replacing low-pressure turbines, and two have been running at 462 MWe. This was the first part of a program to boost Dukovany's gross output by 240 MWe by 2012. Then 38 MWe uprates of units 3 and 4 were completed in May 2009 and December 2010 respectively – bringing their gross capacity to almost 500 MWe – from improved fuel, replacing the high-pressure turbine, refurbishing the generator, and I&C changes. A similar uprate of unit 1 was achieved in November 2011.
At the beginning of 2009, CEZ commenced its Long-Term Operation (LTO) project, the immediate focus of which is to extend the planned operating lifetime of the Dukovany reactors by 10 years. Unit 1 will reach the end of its original 30 years operational lifetime in 2015. The LTO project consists of some 230 sub-projects costing over CZK 14 billion (€560 million) between 2009 and 2015. Further extension to 60 years is under consideration. CEZ aims to extend the plant lifetime eventually to 60 years.2 Austria, whose border is 50 km away, has objected.
With Temelin 1&2, each nominally 981 MWe gross but performing at 994 MWe, Skoda Power modified the high pressure turbines over 2004-07 in a €26 million project to achieve 1013 MWe gross, 963 MWe net. A further upgrade since is expected to result in 1050 MWe gross. The State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB) has confirmed licences to 2020 and 2022 for the units.
New build: Temelin 3&4
The 2004 state energy policy envisaged building two or more large reactors, probably at Temelin, eventually to replace Dukovany. In July 2008, CEZ announced a plan to build two more reactors at Temelin totalling up to 3400 MWe, 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, which it said could take two and a half years.
A public tender process for contractors to build the two new reactors at Temelin 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 Temelin units3.
In March 2010, CEZ announced that discussions had begun with three candidates prior to the bid submission. The three vendor groups are: a consortium led by Westinghouse with 1230 MWe gros (1140 net) AP1000; a Škoda JS/Atomstroyexport/OKB Gidropress consortiumf with AES-2006/MIR-1200 of 1158 MWe gross (1078 net); and Areva with 1750 MWe gross (1650 net) EPR. Bids were formally invited by CEZ in October 2011 for supply of two complete nuclear power plant units on a "full turnkey basis, including nuclear fuel supply for nine years of operation." The designs proposed must be licensed in the vendors' home countries or in a 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 in 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 Temelin. In January 2013 the government gave environmental approval for the two units. (A 5000-page environmental impact statement had been lodged with the government in May 2010.)
The previous government was planning to legislate for a cost-difference guarantee for electricity from Temelin 3&4 to ensure that investment was viable. This would cover the difference between wholesale electricity prices and price levels needed to cover construction costs. The Ministry of Industry and Trade wanted it written into a new long- term Czech energy framework, but this was opposed by the Ministry of Finance. Estimates of its impact vary up to 10% additional on retail power bills. The Industry Ministry was working on €60/MWh, others suggest that €90 would be needed, indexed. CEZ required €70/ MWh for the new units to be profitable, compared with mid 2013 forward prices of under €40. The prime minister of the new coalition government said it was not open to providing price guarantees that would “dramatically burden” consumers, after its experience in support of renewable sources, notably solar PV, which add €1.7 billion per year to consumer bills. CEZ responded by saying that it needed some long-term price assurance or it would abort the project and leave consumers uncertain about supply and prices in the 2020s.
In March 2014 the Ministry of Trade & Industry said that it was considering forming a wholly state-owned company to build Temelin 3&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 confirmation that it would not provide any future price guarantees, CEZ informed Westinghouse, the Russian-Skoda consortium and Areva that it had cancelled 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 on 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.
The Russian-Skoda consortium, or Consortium MIR.1200, in June 2013 established a Czech project company Nuclear Power Alliance a.s. Equity is JSC Atomstroyexport – 51%, ŠKODA JS – 34%, and JSC OKB Gidropress – 15%.
CEZ earlier said the Temelin contract would include an option to order up to three more reactors for other locations in the country or elsewhere in Europe with a view to standardising technology, though these extra units are now in doubt.
A feasibility study for a new reactor at Dukovany is in progress, and CEZ has said it is likely to ask for an environmental assessment when this is completed.
Planned and Proposed Czech power reactors
||MIR-1200 or AP1000
||MIR-1200 or AP1000
|Total planned (2)
CEZ also has a 49% share of a joint venture with Slovak state-owned Javysg to build a new reactor at Bohunice in Slovakia, to be known as the New Bohunice Block. Rosatom is examining the prospect of being both technology provider and investor in this unit.
Czech uranium mining, which once provided over 2500 tonnes of uranium (tU) per year, declined rapidly from 1990 following the collapse of the Communist government. A total of 110,427 tU was produced 1946-2008. By 1994, Czech production had fallen to 600 tU/yr, and through the last decade production has declined steadily to 228 tU in 2012.
The last underground mine – the Rožná deposit in the Dolní Rožínka locality 50 km northwest of Brno – operated by state-controlled Diamo, was due to close in 2003, but was extended due to rising uranium pricesh.* In 2014 the mine was substantially depleted and the government said it was likely to close in 2017. Diamo has completed a feasibility study on reopening the 1980s Brzkov mine near Jihlava which is said to contain 3000-4000 tU some 300 m deep. Diamo said it would take 6-7 years to properly commission the mine.
Closure of Rozna will reduce production to a few tonnes per year from the former ISL operation at Hamr-Stráž pod Ralskemi in northern Bohemia, where a major (EUR 1.25 billion) groundwater rehabilitation project is under way following 32 years of mining. In 2009 Diamo proposed recommencing uranium mining at Straz pod Ralskem.
* In 2007, Australian company Uran Ltd made an offer to participate in the Rozna mine, but this was rejected in favour of local plans. Diamo confirmed it would explore expanding the mine below the current 1200 m depth and, should it be successful in defining further reserves, Uran Limited would be offered potential participation5. Uran also applied for four uranium exploration permits at locations near Rozna and two near Stráž pod Ralskem, but these applications were unsuccessful due to political opposition6. The company has since abandoned uranium.
Most fuel has been sourced within the country, with conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication being undertaken in Russia. Fuel for Dukovany is supplied by TVEL. Fuel for Temelin was initially supplied by Westinghouse but, in 2006, Tvel won a contract in to supply fuel for the two VVER-1000 reactors for 10 years from 2010.7
Radioactive waste management
There is no state policy on reprocessing and the decision is left to CEZ, which does not perceive it as being economic. However, the question remains open.
CEZ is fully responsible for storage and management of its used fuel until it is handed over to the state organization Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA)j.
Used fuel is stored at each power plant. Originally, used fuel from Dukovany was sent to the interim storage facility at the Bohunice plant (now in Slovakia). The dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993 meant that this used fuel originating from Dukovany was stored in a different country, and therefore required repatriationk. An interim dry storage facility with capacity of 600 t was built at Dukovany, and the plant's used fuel storage pools were reracked to increase capacity. The dry storage facility commenced operation in 1995 and since then another storage facility has been built there.
Reracking of storage pools has also taken place at Temelin, and in 2009 construction began on an interim dry storage facility there. It is expected to commence operation in 2010. CEZ creates an internal financial reserve for long-term used fuel storage.
An interim storage facility for used research reactor fuel is located at the Rez nuclear research institute (see section below on Research and development).
At the beginning of 2000, ownership of the country's three repositories – Dukovany, Richard and Bratrstvi – were transferred to the state under the management of RAWRA. Waste from non-power applications is disposed of at the Richard and Bratrstvi repositoriesl. The Dukovany repository is the largest of the repositories and was built specifically for the disposal of low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste generated during the operation of the Dukovany and Temelin nuclear plants. The 55,000 m3 storage volume provides enough space for the waste from both plants, even with their operational lifetimes extended to 40 years. Each of the repository's 112 vaults can accommodate about 1600 individual 200-litre drums. It began operation in 1995 and 15 of the vaults were full by the end of 2009.
Eventual provision of a high-level waste repository is the responsibility of (RAWRA). Selection of a candidate and a reserve site is scheduled for 2015, with construction start after 2050 and operation beginning in 2065. One possible site is at Skalka in southern Moravia. In the late 1990s, this site was considered for a central used fuel interim storage facility as an alternative to the Temelin storage facility and to the storage capacity expansion at Dukovany (beyond the 600 t facility)m.
Under the Atomic Energy Act 2002, CEZ as nuclear plant operator is required to put aside funds for waste disposal, lodging these with the Czech National Bank. The rate is CZK 0.05 (€0.002) per kWh. The Act also requires that nuclear plants are decommissioned following the end of their operating lifetimes and CEZ is also progressively funding this. The adequacy of reserve funds for decommissioning is under the supervision of RAWRA.
Research and development
The Nuclear Research Institute Řež plc (Ústav jaderného výzkumu Řež a.s., ÚJV) was founded in 1955 through an agreement between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, and later incorporated into the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. The village of Řež is located in the Husinec municipality in central Bohemia 11 km northwest of Prague. In 1992, the Rez Nuclear Research Institute was privatisedn and is now owned by CEZ (52.4%) with Slovak Electric (SE, 27.8%), Škoda JS (17.4%) and the Husinec municipality (2.4%)o.
Two research reactors are currently in operation at Rez: the 10 MWt LVR-15, which went critical in September 1957, and the 5 kWt LR-0 (criticality 1982). The Czech Technical University in Prague operates a third research reactor, the 5 kWt VR-1 Sparrow (criticality 1990). The VR-1 was the first research reactor supplied with highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Russia to convert to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel8.
Used HEU fuel that was stored at Rez has been returned to Russia as part of the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return program9.
Regulation and safety
Licensing, nuclear safety, waste management, safeguards, and radiation protection are regulated by the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB), which took over these responsibilities from the former Czechoslovak Atomic Energy Commission in 1993. The SUJB reports directly to cabinet. In November 2013 a peer review team led by the IAEA completed an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission to the Czech Republic and reported “that the Czech regulatory system for nuclear and radiation safety is robust and that the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) is an effective and independent regulatory body.” SUJB will make the final IRRS report available to the public.
The Atomic Energy Act of 1997 was amended in 2002 to harmonize with European Union legislation, and covers all nuclear energy matters.
The Czech Republic is a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) since 1993 as a non-nuclear weapons state. Its safeguards agreement under the NPT came into force in 1997. It is member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and, since May 2004, of Euratom. The Additional Protocol in relation to its safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency came into force in 2002.
a. In 2011, the Czech Republic exported 7.7 billion kWh to Slovakia, 10.0 billion kWh to Austria, 7.5 billion kWh (net) to Germany and imported 8.2 billion kWh (net) from Poland. These numbers change a bit from year to year, but the pattern remains. [Back]
b. The two biggest regional distribution companies – CEZ Distribution and E.ON Distribution – said early in 2010 that they would not authorize new grid connections for wind and solar power projects. The decision followed a warning from the high-voltage grid operator CEPS that the number of projects, especially solar, in the pipeline threatened to overload the grid and result in blackouts. Some 600 MWe of wind and solar capacity is connected now, and there is approval for 3500 MWe more – relative to about 11 GWe of baseload plant. The guaranteed Czech feed-in tariffs for solar are very high. [Back]
c. VSB was acquired by Hochtief in 1999, becoming Hochtief VSB, and later Hochtief CZ. [Back]
d. The two VVER-440 reactors at Loviisa in Finland were built in the 1970s incorporating hardwired Western I&C systems, but it wasn't until 2008 that Areva commenced a six-year renewal project to instal modern digital I&C. In addition, Western systems were incorporated into the Loviisa plant at the design stage, whereas it was not until the Temelin reactors were substantially built that Western I&C was introduced. [Back]
e. In 1992, the state's National Property Fund founded ČEZ, a. s. from the state enterprise České energetické závody (Czech power plants). In 1993, 27% of CEZ shares were privatized in the first wave of 'voucher privatization'. The second wave was in 1995, when a further 6% was sold. In 2001, the government commenced the process of choosing a strategic investor for the National Property Fund’s remaining stake in CEZ and six regional distribution companies, but this was cancelled at the beginning of 2002. In the mid-2000s, the government said it intended to sell a 16% stake in CEZ, leaving it with 51%, and in 2007 commenced the sale of a 7% stake, but this was not completed and at the same time CEZ was repurchasing shares on the open market (thus increasing the government stake). By the end of 2009, the government owned just under 70% of CEZ, with asset managers holding about 21% and about 5% held by private individuals. (The banks UniCredit Bank Czech, Citibank Europe and ČSOB own almost all of the shares held by asset managers.) [Back]
f. In October 2009, the consortium of Skoda JS, Atomstroyexport and Gidropress submitted qualification documents for VVER-1200 units for Temelin 3 & 4. The model was represented as the Europe-tailored reactor design, the MIR-1200 (Modernized International Reactor), also intended for the Baltic plant in Kaliningrad and bid for Turkey and Finland, and similar to the plants under construction at Leningrad II and Novovoronezh II. Skoda JS is owned by Russia's OMZ (Uralmash-Izhora Group). [Back]
g. In 2009, the Jess joint venture was established between Slovak state-owned decommissioning company Javys (51%) and CEZ (49%) to construct a new nuclear unit at the Bohunice site in Slovakia. See Slovakian nuclear JV gets government blessing, World Nuclear News (10 December 2009) [Back]
h. In a May 2007 decree, the Czech Republic government approved the continuation of uranium mining and processing at the Rožná deposit for as long as it remains economic. The government required that a new proposal on mining activity at Rožná, based on results of geological exploration of reserves, economic and energy security aspects, be submitted by June 2012.4 [Back]
i. In situ leach (ISL) mining took place at Diamo's northern mine of Stráž pod Ralskem from 1967 until 1996. Since 1996, uranium has been exploited as a by-product of the remediation of the Stráž uranium deposit. [Back]
j. The Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA, Správa úložišť radioaktivních odpadů, SÚRAO) was established on 1 June 1997 and is responsible for the disposal of existing and future radioactive waste in the Czech Republic. [Back]
k. Used fuel from Dukovany was sent to the Bohunice interim storage facility prior to being sent to Russia. However, in 1993, Russia decided to only accept used fuel for reprocessing, not direct disposal, and Slovakia said it would no longer accept used fuel from Dukovany. [Back]
l. Disposal of low-level institutional waste has been carried since 1964 out at the former Richard limestone mine near the town of Litoměřice, Northern Bohemia. (So-called institutional waste is generated in the health sector, industry, research and agriculture. Examples of such waste include disused meters and radionuclide emitters, contaminated clothing, cloth, paper and syringes.) The total volume of the Richard facility exceeds 17,000 m3, about half of which comprises disposal capacity. Assuming the repository continues to be filled at the current pace of 100 to 200 drums per year, its operational life will continue up to 2070. Institutional waste containing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) is disposed of at the Bratrství repository, near the town of Jáchymov. The facility was constructed from one of the mined cavities of a former uranium mine and has a disposal capacity of approximately 1200 m3. It was put into operation in 1974 and was 80% full at the end of 2008.
Another repository at Hostím near the city of Beroun was closed down in 1965. It was constructed in a former limestone mine and put into operation in 1959 for institutional radioactive waste. Following its closure, most of waste packages were transferred to the Richard repository. The repository was filled with concrete and sealed in 1997. The site is monitored by RAWRA. [Back]
m. At the end of 1999, the Ministry of Environment rejected the plan to construct a central interim used fuel storage facility (of 2900 t capacity) at Skalka on the grounds that approval had been given to the expansion of storage capacity at Dukovany. A year later, CEZ submitted a proposal to construct a repository at Skalka, and the site is reserved. However, site selection for a deep geological waste repository is still at an early stage. [Back]
n. The Řež Nuclear Research Institute (ÚJV) underwent restructuring in 1972, when the bulk of the organization was incorporated into the Czechoslovak Atomic Energy Commission, which was at the time responsible for the nuclear program development. At the end of December 1992 the Institute was privatized as a joint-stock company. The Institute began offering designing and engineering services following the November 2002 acquisition of the design division of Energoprojekt Praha a.s. [Back]
o. Slovak Electric, (Slovenské Elektrárne, SE) is 66%-owned by Italy's Enel (the rest of SE is held by the Slovak government); Skoda JS is owned by Russia's OMZ (Uralmash-Izhora Group). [Back]
1. Temelin's hard-earned success, Nuclear Engineering International (July 2002) [Back]
2. Nuclear power plants in 2009, ČEZ a. s. Generation Division (2010) [Back]
3. CEZ opened the public tender for a contactor of nuclear units, CEZ Group press release (3 August 2009) [Back]
4. Prolongation of uranium mining on Rožná deposit In Dolní Rožínka location, Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic press release (28 May 2007) [Back]
5. Discussions Continue Over Rozna, Uran Limited announcement (27 February 2007) [Back]
6. Political Support for Increased Nuclear Power and Uranium Mining in Czech Republic. Appeals Lodged Over Exploration Permits in Czech Republic, Uran Limited announcement (16 June 2008) [Back]
7. Temelin to use only Russian fuel from 2010, World Nuclear News (20 October 2009); TVEL provides Skoda with test fuel assembly, World Nuclear News (22 November 2007) [Back]
8. NNSA Completes Czech Research Reactor Conversion, National Nuclear Security Administration, US Department of Energy, press release (4 November 2005) [Back]
9. Rez research reactor fuel returned to Russia, World Nuclear News (10 December 2007) [Back]
CEZ website (www.cez.cz)
Diamo website (www.diamo.cz)
Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA) website (www.rawra.cz)
State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) website (www.sujb.cz)
Country Nuclear Power Profiles: Czech Republic, International Atomic Energy Agency
The Source Book on Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power Plants, Nuclear Energy Institute
Energy in East Europe, 23 January 2004