Czech nuclear power project in turmoil

Monday, February 10, 2014

The chief executive of Czech energy group CEZ says his company may be forced to pull out of building costly new nuclear reactors at Temelin power plant if the new government says it is not open to providing price guarantees on Temelin power generated by the new units.

The new Czech government’s threat to abandon a tender for the $15bn project would leave CEZ AS and the bidders to build the nuclear reactors with large losses.

A Russian-Czech group led by Rosatom has invested heavily in the tender for two new reactors at the Temelin announced in 2009, while rival bidder Westinghouse Electric LLC also said it’s incurred “very significant costs”.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (pictured) said he was against price guarantees that would “dramatically burden” households and businesses in decades to come. In response, CEZ chief executive Daniel Benes warned last month that without some form of state guarantee his company may ditch the project.

The utility is waiting for the new government to complete an energy strategy, which will determine the country’s commitment to nuclear power and its place in the energy mix. CEZ can’t make any decision on Temelin until that strategy is in place, Benes has said.

Bloomberg also reports that Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said the Czech Republic is also hesitating to choose a supplier because neither bidder has completed a single reactor of the type they’re offering to build at Temelin anywhere else in the world.

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