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Construction would mostly be at existing coal plants, but Dukovany and Temelín nuclear sites also an option

State power company ČEZ has said it is planning to deploy SMRs with the first to go online at Temelín. Courtesy ČEZ.

The Czech government has approved a Ministry of Industry and Trade roadmap that provides an overview of possible sites and investment models for the deployment of small modular reactors in the country, mostly at existing coal sites.

A government statement said based on the roadmap, SMR technology will be included in state energy and development policy.

The roadmap recommends speeding up the process of site selection and preparation so construction of the first SMRs can begin in the first half of 2030s.

It says the market approach presumes “minimal or no involvement from the state”. SMR projects should be implemented and financed on a purely market basis with the help of commercial loans and the investor’s own resources, possibly through project financing,” the roadmaps says.

In addition to existing nuclear sites at Dukovany and Temelín, promising locations include coal-fired power plants such as Detmarovice, near the eastern border with Poland, and Tisova, near the western border with Germany.

The roadmap says the “prerequisite” is to use mainly brownfield sites that are being used for existing coal resources.

Power Company Favours Temelín For First Unit

State power company ČEZ has said it is planning to deploy SMRs with the first to go online in 2032 at Temelín. It said in March it had tentatively identified two preferred sites, both coal-fired plants, for additional units.

“Our vision is for SMRs to complement large nuclear units from the 2030s-40s onwards,” said industry and trade minister Jozef Sikela. “The approved roadmap will provide investors with a certainty, so that they can prepare sites and subsequently make investment decisions.

“This will give Czech companies the opportunity to participate in supply chains, to look for partners abroad and play an important role in the development of this promising field,” Sikela said.

The government said Rolls-Royce SMR in the UK and US-based GE Hitachi are both interested in deploying their SMR technology in the Czech Republic.

It said the roadmap summarises the state of play regarding SMRs and presents the suggestions of a working group that met throughout 2022 and 2023. It sets out a framework for the possible application of SMR technology in the Czech Republic and details investor models and necessary legislative changes.

The company overseeing the project to build new large-scale nuclear power plants at the Dukovany site announced this week it had received final bids from three companies – US-based Westinghouse, France’s EDF and South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP).

The Czech Republic has six commercially operational reactor units: four Russia-designed VVER-440 units at Dukovany and two larger VVER-1000 units at Temelín. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, in 2022 the six units provided 36.7% of the country’s electricity production.

Construction of a first new unit at Dukovany could begin in 2029. The industry ministry has said it would be the biggest investment in the modern history of the Czech Republic, costing around €6bn ($6.7bn).

Date: Saturday, 04 November 2023
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