Three Nuclear Giants Will Vie for Czech Republic’s Dukovany Expansion

Competition for a new unit of up to 1.2 GW at the Czech Republic’s Dukovany nuclear power plant site has stepped up, with France’s EDF, South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), and a Westinghouse-Bechtel team submitting initial bids, Czech utility ČEZ, said on Nov. 30.

Elektrárna Dukovany II, a. s. (EDU II), a ČEZ wholly owned subsidiary, will now analyze the bids and negotiate with the bidders Bidders will then submit final bids by the end of September 2023. EDU II will then submit an evaluation report to the state for approval. “We expect the contracts to be finalized in 2024,” said Tomáš Pleskač, a member of the Board of Directors and Director of the ČEZ New Energy Division, on Wednesday.

Initial bids “are the basis for clarifying technical and commercial parameters, but not for the actual selection or exclusion of contractors,” ČEZ clarified on Wednesday. “In the tender itself, the aim is to select the best contractor and a high-quality contract. The signing of the contract will be followed by a thorough preparation of the project documentation in order to adhere to a deadline of 2036 for the start of the new unit test operation.”

The new Dukovany plant, Dukovany II, will be built next to the 1987-completed Dukovany nuclear plant, the first nuclear plant built on Czech territory. Dukovany is located 30 kilometers southeast of the UNESCO town Třebíč. Comprising four Russian-designed VVER 440 (model V 213) pressurized water reactors (PWRs), the 2,040-MW Dukovany plant produces around 15 TWh of electricity annually, which covers about 20% of total electricity consumption in the Czech Republic.

The Dukovany nuclear power plant in Třebíč, the Czech Republic, has four 510-MW VVER 440 units. “The individual units were put into operation between 1985 and 1987. The original total installed electrical capacity was 1,760 MW. Attainable power output has been gradually increasing thanks to turbine upgrades, efficiency programs and technical improvements. Today, the power plant has an installed capacity of 2,040 MW. The thermal output of each of the four reactors is 1,444 MWth,” says Czech utility ČEZ. Courtesy: ČEZ

Part of a Nuclear Strategy

Efforts to develop Dukovany II began in 2015, with the establishment of EDU II as a specialized entity to implement the new nuclear plant. According to ČEZ, the Dukovany site is suited for a plant sized up to 1.2 GW rather than larger units, owing to technical and natural limitations. ČEZ envisions only one unit “so as not to exceed the total net electrical power in Dukovany Site of 3250 MWe,” it said.

Dukovany II’s development is part of ČEZ’s nuclear strategy. The utility says construction and start-up of the new nuclear unit is “of crucial importance in order to ensure continuity of the nuclear power plant operation and human resources at the site by 2037, when termination of the gradual decommissioning of the existing power plant is conservatively foreseen by the National Action Plan.” The strategy also foresees opportunities to expand its only other nuclear plant, the 2,160-MWe Temelin nuclear station, which is located close to the South Bohemian capital České Budějovice. Temelin features two VVER 1000 Type V 320 PWRs.

On Wednesday, ČEZ said public support for the nuclear new build is a record highs, owing to the current energy crisis. “The most important advantages of nuclear energy include energy security—independence from third countries, low operating costs, i.e. stable price in the long run, reliability of power supply and operational safety of nuclear power plants. The environmental aspects are crucial, with emission-free electricity making a major contribution to the fight against global warming,” the utility said.

Westinghouse-Bechtel Eyeing Opportunities for AP1000 at Temelin

While details aren’t immediately available about bids submitted by EDF and KHNP, Bechtel, in a statement sent to POWER, said its bid, submitted as part of a partnership with Westinghouse, proposes the construction of a single AP1000 reactor. However, the proposal contains “the potential for another unit there and two additional units at the Temelin site,” it said. “Westinghouse and Bechtel will partner with the Czech nuclear industry to fulfill key roles in procurement of equipment and construction of the reactors.”

Bechtel is a key contractor for the two AP1000 units that are nearing start-up at the Vogtle expansion in Georgia. “Nuclear fuel was loaded into the Unit 3 core in October, and commercial operation is expected in the first quarter of 2023,” Bechtel noted.

Westinghouse, in November, ultimately won a fierce contest to build an AP1000 reactor for Poland’s first nuclear plant in Pomerania. Westinghouse vied with EDF, which offered to build 1.7-GW EPR units, and KHNP, which offered to build six 1.3-GW APR1400 units for Poland. The Polish government and two Polish energy firms later also signed a letter of intent with KHNP to “push ahead” with the development of a second nuclear plant based on APR1400 technology in Pątnów, central Poland.

Bechtel on Wednesday noted the AP1000 plant “is the only operating Generation III+ reactor with fully passive safety systems, modular construction design and has the smallest footprint per MWe on the market.” In addition to Vogtle 3 and 4,  four AP1000 units “are currently setting operational performance records in China with four additional reactors under construction, and two more are planned,” it said. In addition, nine units have been announced for Ukraine, and “the technology is under consideration at multiple other sites in Central and Eastern Europe, the UK, and in the U.S.,” it said.

EDF is meanwhile spearheading the construction of six EPRs around the world: One in France (Flamanville 3), one in Finland (Olkiluoto 3), two in China (at Taishan), and two in the UK (at Hinkley Point). This week, the UK government said it would bolster a proposal to build Sizewell C with a £679 million ($815 million) investment, giving the twin EPR nuclear power plant project—a combined 3.2 GW—new flexibility to proceed. EDF, notably, is also in “exclusive negotiations” with India’s Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NCPIL) for the construction of six EPRs in Jaitapur. 

KHNP has so far built two APR-1400s in South Korea (Shin Kori 3 and 4) and has two others under construction (Shin Hanul 1 & 2). It has also completed two of four APR-1400 units (Units 1 and 2) under construction at the Barakah nuclear plant in the United Arab Emirates. Barakah 3 was connected to the grid on Oct. 10. Along with prospects in Poland and the Czech Republic, KHNP is looking to export reactors to Saudi Arabia.

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine).

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