Czech PM Necas discusses Temelin nuclear tender with Russian counterpart.

By bne IntelliNews May 28, 2013

While on a four-day visit to Russia, Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas met with Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and discussed the planned expansion of Czech nuclear power plant Temelin, CTK news agency reported. Medvedev said that if the Czech-Russian consortium, which is one of the bidders in the USD 10bn tender, wins the contract Czech companies will get orders worth some EUR 6bn.

The consortium which comprises Skoda JS, Atomstroyexport and Gidropress is bidding against US Westinghouse to build two more reactors at Temelin doubling the plant’s output to 4,000 MW, in a deal closely followed by nuclear equipment suppliers that were hit by decreasing power prices and weakening interest in atomic energy since Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011.

The Temelin tender, which aims to boost the share of nuclear power in Czech power mix to 50% by 2030 and is due to become the country’s largest-ever investment project, is fuelling US-Russian rivalry with each country lobbying for its candidate.

While on a visit to Prague in December, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Czechs to diverse their energy sources by choosing the Westinghouse technology. Westinghouse, owned by Toshiba Corp, is bidding with its AP1000 reactor model, while the consortium led by Rosatom’s subsidiary Atomostroyexport is offering the VVER1200 reactors. The current two reactors at Temelin are Soviet-designed VVER1000 but equipped with Westinghouse safety systems, electricity circuits and cabling to comply with western European standards.

The Temelin tender has recently become a focus of political dispute between two of the government parties a year before general elections due in 2014. Last week finance minister Miroslav Kalousek, who is also a member of junior ruling party TOP 09, raised doubt about the effectiveness of the investment project given the falling power prices. Necas, the leader of the senior government party Civic Democrats, said that a final decision on Temelin expansion will be based on long-term strategic goals adding that the industry will need new power capacities as some 1,800 MW of coal-burning plants are to be closed by 2020.

CEZ, which operates Temelin, wants to select the tender winner by September 2013 and have the two reactors running by 2025. It is now in talks with the two bidders to improve their offers. French Areva also filed a bid but CEZ disqualified it in October saying it did not meet legal and commercial conditions.

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