Low demand delays nuclear plant 5 years

TEMELIN, CZECH REPUBLIC - Czech power giant CEZ as has announced that its Temelin nuclear power project will be delayed for five years due to weak electricity demand.

The controversial nuclear power plant was supposed to add two new reactors by 2020, but the company's chief executive, Martin Roman, has now admitted that the project will be put on the back burner, with the completion date set for 2025. Speaking to representatives of the government's environmental agency, Roman said completing the project by 2020 is no longer feasible because there will not be enough demand for the new power.

"Power consumption has reverted to what it was years ago because of the economic crisis," Roman said. "Power consumption in Germany in 2009 returned to the same level it was in 1992 — that is, 18 years ago. Consumption in the Czech Republic has slumped to the level it was in 2005."

Temelin is a 2,000-megawatt MW facility in South Bohemia and is the biggest power producer in the Czech Republic. It uses VVER-1000, Type V 320 pressurized water reactors.

It was originally designed to have four reactors but was limited to two by the government in 1993. Ever since then, CEZ has been fighting to get the other two blocks built. The company finally won its battle in April 2009, with South Bohemian authorities voting overwhelmingly to lift the ban and allow the construction of the two new units.

Other factors contributing to the delay of the Temelin expansion project include the need to construct a new 110-kilometer power line to Temelin, Roman said.

The three bidders in the tender process for Temelin are Areva S.A., Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, and a consortium of companies led by Russia's AtomStroyExport. A winner will not be chosen until 2013, and the construction process will take an estimated 12 years.

In related news, Unit 3 of CEZ's older Dukovany Nuclear Power Station, which is 30 kilometres southeast of Trebíc, was shut down one weekend for a planned 33-day refuelling operation.


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