The Czech Republic's giant nuclear tender took an important step forward October 31 when the country's utility CEZ invited the qualified candidates - France's Areva, the Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse Electric and a Russo-Czech consortium led by Atomstroyexport - to submit bids by July 2, 2012, with the winning bidder expected to be announced in late 2013.
In a statement, CEZ said it has provided the bidders with the official documents outlining the parameters of the tender to build two new nuclear units at its 2-gigawatt Temelin nuclear power plant.
CEZ has earlier said the tender, which was first announced in 2009, includes an option for it to order another three more reactors at sites inside and outside the Czech Republic under the same terms and conditions that apply to the one at Temelin, which analysts say could mean the total investment reaches over €20bn.
The tender documentation includes the relevant evaluation criteria and the overall bid assessment procedure. "Criteria to evaluate the bids is... 50% centred on technical specifications including safety and licensing, and the remaining 50% include the economics of the offers, namely the price, commercial terms such as guarantees, payment terms or conditions in the supply of nuclear fuel," CEZ said.
With the global economy and nuclear industry in uncertain times, the importance of this tender to the three bidders has been evident by the PR battle being conducted through the press in the lead-up to the announcement.
The previous week, the head of Russian state nuclear holding Rosatom, Sergei Kirienko, was in town for several days, during which he met with journalists and spoke at the Atomex Europe 2011 international forum. Kirienko was keen to stress how the bid of Atomstroyexport and Gidropress, which are both controlled by Rosatom, and its Czech partner JS Skoda (which is actually owned by Russian engineering firm OMZ) will help over 300 Czech suppliers with billions of crowns in orders.
This is the line the French and the Americans are also keen to stress.
"We are ready to commit to local suppliers - we have identified more than 150 that we can work with, and we are already working with many of them and want to work with them even stronger on this project," said Ruben Lazo, Areva's chief commercial officer, who added that Areva is the only company with a third-generation nuclear reactor design which is already licensed in Europe with two currently under construction in Finland and France.
Westinghouse described a win by the US firm as, "A huge opportunity for Czech companies to participate in manufacture and construction of the plant - based on our 'We Buy Where We Build' philosophy - which could see up to 70% of the project delivered by local Czech firms."
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