The Czech Republic's nuclear sector could deliver up to 75% of the work to construct new reactors at Dukovany and boost GDP by 0.9% during the peak of construction, a government report has concluded. Accordingly, it should be supported and enabled to win more export work, the report said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček meeting with industry representatives (Image: Ministry of Industry and Trade)

"For the development of nuclear energy, which inevitably awaits us after the end of coal combustion in the Czech Republic, it is essential that Czech industry maintain high competencies in the widest possible range of expertise related to nuclear energy," Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček said during a strategic meeting with industry.

Havlíček met with the Czech Energy Alliance, a group of the country's largest nuclear energy companies which are progressing negotiations towards building two new reactors at Dukovany. Among the documents they discussed was a report on the capabilities of the Czech Republic's nuclear sector, intended to support decision making.

The Czech Republic's National Action Plan for the Development of Nuclear Energy, approved by the government in June 2015, says that a precondition for long-term operation of nuclear power plants is having domestic engineering capacity of sufficient scope and quality to support new build, operation, decommissioning and waste management. Key to this is that Czech companies would play a "significant" role in the engineering procurement and construction of new power reactors, which would leave them with appropriate capabilities for ongoing work in operation and maintenance. The government also expects these capabilities to translate into contracts in other countries.

'Exceptional' capabilities

There is an ongoing tender process for construction of two new reactors at Dukovany and the Ministry of Industry and Trade liaised with six potential EPC suppliers to map the Czech Republic's capabilities. The report concluded: "a localisation rate of at least 50% was described as realistic. The level of 70-75% can probably be considered as the maximum level of localisation."

The high rate is mainly due to experience gained during construction of its own Dukovany and Temelin plants in the late 1970s and late 1980s, as well as deep involvement in Slovakia's Mochovce and Bohunice plants, all of which are VVER designs. The countries were partners in the former Czechoslovakia, which was dissolved in 1993.

This level of experience puts Czech industry in an "exceptional" position, the report said. Its supply chain was responsible for "practically the entire turbine islands, the electrical part as well as the vast majority of equipment and key components of nuclear islands" of Czech and Slovak units. During the construction of Temelin 1 and 2 in the late 1980s, "Czech companies accounted for approximately 90% of total deliveries."

The government took note that Czech industry has "the ability ... to produce, supply and put into operation the entire nuclear island, including the nuclear reactor," which it values as "directly related to the future independence of the Czech side in servicing and maintaining the nuclear power plant." It said, "In the context of Europe, this is a completely unique capability and this must be taken into account when negotiating the scope of supply when communicating with potential bidders." It noted that Skoda JS is currently the main contractor for the completion of Mochovce 3 and 4 and has been undertaking primary circuit work.

In summary, "The entire [supply chain] for the nuclear energy industry has been developing in the Czech Republic for decades and there is therefore no need to implement and build it."

Accordingly, construction of new reactors would have significant economic benefits for the country. Republishing figures from previous analyses, the government estimated that "in the period of the largest investor activity, the average GDP growth reaches 0.67%, with a maximum of 0.90%." In the long term a new nuclear build project would increase the GDP of the Czech Republic by 0.21%, it said, which would equate to CZK242.6 billion (USD11.2 billion) per year during operation.

"The GDP generated by the project thus positively contributes to the overall macroeconomic situation of the Czech economy and stimulates its growth," said the report. The implementation of the project would have a positive effect on public finances in the total amount of CZK85.8 billion during operation, representing an average of CZK2.86 billion per year.

In terms of employment, construction of two new reactors would lead to the creation of 218,293 person-years [of work] in the investment phase, equivalent to 15,592 full time jobs. "During operation, on average 4720 permanent jobs are created."

To maximise benefits to the country, the report concluded that the Czech nuclear sector should be "comprehensively supported" in terms of research and development, business diplomacy and trade missions abroad. It said there should be discussions with export finance bodies about the specific conditions under which their services could boost nuclear exports.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 27 August 2021
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