Contrary to reports in the Czech media, U.S. energy group Westinghouse Electric Co., one of three companies short-listed in a bid worth upwards of $25 billion to build reactors at ČEZ’s nuclear power plant in Temelín, did not request a delay in the bidding process and has no concerns about the electricity grid’s capacity, a company official said in an interview.
“I don’t know what the other participants requested, but we never requested more time to get ready,” said Kerry Hanahan, project development coordinator in the Czech Republic for Westinghouse Electric Co.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) told reporters after an Oct. 19 meeting of the State Security Council that the selection process would be delayed by one year to 2013 although construction should proceed so as to meet the 2020 start-up date envisioned in the original schedule. Czech special energy envoy Václav Bartuška, appearing with Nečas, said ČEZ —and the bidders — needed more time to fine-tune their proposals.
The tender is highly politically sensitive, and Nečas said that the Czech state, which has a 69 percent stake in Prague- and Warsaw-listed ČEZ, will choose the winner in the Temelín tender and decide on other strategic aspects of the tender process, including the timing of its various stages. Czech special energy envoy Václav Bartuška said ČEZ — and the bidders — needed more time.
“The government has announced three dates, 2011 [for calling the tender], 2012 [for submitting final bids], 2013 [for deciding a winner, if any] which is essentially a one-year shift,” Hanahan said.
Westinghouse Electric Co. (part of Japan’s Toshiba Corp.) is up against Areva of France and a consortium led by Russia’s Atomstroyexport and Czech nuclear industry supplier Škoda JS — part of Russian engineering group OMZ (Uralmash-Izhora Group) since 2004.
ČEZ’s chief executive, Martin Roman, has confirmed that the Temelín reactor complex is being expanded to be produce electricity for export to Germany and Poland.
“Germany’s recent decision to keep its 17 reactors operating well past the original 2020 closure deadline appears to have played into the ČEZ change of heart regarding the Temelín tender,” wrote Dan Yurman, a contributing reporter to Fuel Cycle Week, a nuclear industry trade newsletter, in his blog. “It has delayed but not stopped the biggest new reactor project in Europe. It’s high stakes for everyone.”
Hanahan said press reports that the Temelín tender may have been delayed due to concerns about infrastructure were unfounded. “The electric grid in that region [South Bohemia] was originally designed to support four plants of roughly the size as the current Temelín plant,” he said. “There is a question mark as to whether the grid can handle larger capacity plants.”
The Fleet Approach
If Westinghouse is successful in its bid, its plans call for using up to 80 percent Czech suppliers under its “buy-where-you-build” program when it constructs two AP1000 units, which are Generation III+ pressurized water reactors. The level of participation of Czech firms is expected to be an important factor in the tender process.
Opportunities for Czech suppliers exist in construction, metallurgic works and site preparation. Many components for the reactor’s safety system can come from Czech suppliers as well, Hanahan said. Westinghouse previously worked with Czech suppliers when it finished the first two units of Temelín, which launched in 2000 and 2002.
The AP1000 has an output of 1,150 megawatts of electricity, compared with 963 MW for the Temelín existing units. The consortium of Russia-based Atomstroyexport, Škoda JS and Gidropress (also a Russian company) has proposed the MIR-1200, which will generate 1,158 MW. The final qualified bidder, France-based Areva, is offering its EPR model, which has an output of 1,650 MW.
Apart from the Czech Republic, other countries in the CEE region are also considering nuclear expansion. “We have designed a product that is synergistic with a fleet approach and a fleet application,” Hanahan said.
That means if the initial AP1000 units are built at Temelín, it would cost less to make additional units in the same region. Czech suppliers can remain involved in the regional and global supply chain in the long run, as virtually the same parts will be required for every new unit. If initial AP1000 units are built at Temelín, Westinghouse’s planned CE expansion would be cheaper.
Four AP1000 units are under construction at two sites in China, and four units are under construction in two sites in the US. There’s also two other units that are under contract in the US, but construction hasn’t started yet, Halahan said. All the plants are on schedule and on budget. The first unit in China is scheduled to start operating in 2013.
“They are moving along very quickly and you can see where lessons learned, sort of this fleet approach, is being applied at every step of the way. Each one of the nuclear [reactor shell] concrete pours took a little less time [than the previous one]. That learning curve has developed in China,” Halahan said.