Nuclear energy from US and France will cut Czechia's dependency on Russia

From 2024, the American Westinghouse and the French Framatome will supply nuclear fuel to the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.04.2022 10:26:00 (updated on 20.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Correction: The previous version of the article stated that Framatome and Westinghouse would also be involved in building the nuclear reactor in Dukovany, but the companies were only selected to provide nuclear energy.

As the Czech Republic is advancing on its quest to add more nuclear energy, decade-long reliance on Russia seems to be diminishing in the long term. State-controlled energy group ČEZ selected French Framatome and American Westinghouse to supply nuclear energy.

Yet, finding the suppliers is only a step in a long process The 15-year contract will be signed in 2024, and construction is expected to begin in 2029. 

The deal is worth billions of Czech crowns, said CEZ Group chief spokesman Ladislav Kriz. In December 2023, ČEZ should give the government a final assessment of the bids, according to ČEZ director general Daniel Beneš.

The current supplier of the plant is Russian TVEL, which is part of Russian energy giant Rosatom. 

Russia’s Rosatom and China’s CNG were excluded from the tender as companies that might pose a potential security risk. A law signed by President Miloš Zeman in September 2021 blocked both Russia and China from future participation in nuclear projects. 

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ČEZ said it selected the U.S. and French nuclear power companies so that it could reliably ensure a continuous supply of fuel cells for Temelin’s reactors, while “minimizing the risks of a possible supply outage.”

The Czech Republic already relies on six nuclear reactors to generate more than a third of its total electricity. Besides the two plants in Temelin, CEZ operates another four 510-megawatt units at the Dukovany power plant.

Increasing the amount of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic would reduce the reliance on imported oil and gas. Meanwhile, reliance on coal, which is available in the Czech Republic, is being reduced for environmental reasons.

Last week, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said that the Czech Republic should cut its dependence on Russian energy resources within five years. 

"Our dependence on fossil fuels from Russia, neglected for years, is one of the greatest security risks to our country," said the Prime Minister. "It should be our goal to escape this Russian energy noose completely in the next five years".

Prime Minister Petr Fiala at Dukovany. Photo: ČEZ.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala at Dukovany. Photo: ČEZ.

At the same time, the Czech Republic meets its gas needs almost entirely through shipments directly or indirectly from Russia and gets roughly half its crude imports from the same source.

Unlike its western neighbors Austria and Germany, the Czech Republic is doubling down on nuclear power and also renewable energy sources after deciding to phase out coal as a fuel for energy generation by 2033 to reduce carbon emissions.

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