Czech energy company CEZ switches away from Russian nuclear fuel

Czech energy company CEZ switches away from Russian nuclear fuel
Czech nuclear power plants have traditionally used Russian-sourced nuclear fuel.
By bne IntelliNews June 29, 2022

Czech state-controlled energy company CEZ has signed a contract with US nuclear power technology company Westinghouse and French Framatome for the supply of fuel assemblies for the Temelin Nuclear Power Plant, the company announced in a press release. The value of the contract is in the order of billions of crowns.

The contract is part of a shift by nuclear power station operators away from reliance on Russian nuclear fuel supplies, though many states in Central Europe – notably Hungary – remain dependent on Russian inputs.

Both suppliers were selected in a tender in April. "Of course, we selected the best offers with regard to both safety and price. At the same time, however, our goal was to diversify the number of suppliers in order to minimise the risk of possible supply failures for any reason," said Ladislav Stepanek, Director of the Fuel Cycle Department at CEZ.

"We welcome the decision of CEZ group to diversify its nuclear fuel supply and to select Westinghouse as a supplier of nuclear fuel for Temelin Nuclear Power Plant. Westinghouse has developed and supplied for many years our own VVER fuel designs for both the VVER 1000 and the VVER 440 types of reactors. We are extremely happy that our successful experience in supplying VVER fuel is going to benefit CEZ," said Tarik Choho, President of EMEA Operating Plant Services.

"Framatome is pleased to have been chosen by CEZ as a supplier to contribute to Temelin plant’s fuel security of supply,“ commented Lionel Gaiffe, Senior Executive Vice President, Fuel Business Unit at Framatome. 

“This is the result of a long term partnership between CEZ and Framatome and demonstrates the confidence of CEZ in the reliability of our fuel solution regarding their need and requirement to produce low-carbon energy in Czech Republic," he added.

According to CEZ, this should be an important step towards strengthening the energy security of Czechia. Deliveries of assemblies to the Temelin plant will begin in 2024. Currently, in Temelin the company has fuel assemblies for approximately two years of operation; at the Dukovany plant even more. 

"We decided to increase the stockpile volume at both nuclear power plants in 2016. Thanks to this, we have enough assemblies at Dukovany for approximately three years of operation of all the units. Of course, we continue to think about the diversification of suppliers," declared Bohdan Zronek, a member of the board of directors and Director of the Nuclear Power Division.

Westinghouse focuses its activities on carbon-free energy by providing innovative nuclear technologies to utilities globally. In May, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding on building a long-duration energy storage facility in Bulgaria. In April, it signed memoranda of understanding with three Slovenian companies that will cover co-operation on the potential AP1000 nuclear power plant projects across Central and Eastern Europe.

Framatome is an international leader in nuclear energy, designing, servicing and installing components, producing nuclear fuel and supplying instrumentation and control systems for nuclear power plants. 

CEZ Group is one of the key state companies, operating in Western, Central and South-Eastern Europe. The company focuses its activities on generation, distribution, trade and sale of electricity and heat, the trade and sales of natural gas, the provision of complex energy services and coal mining.

In March, after years of delays, CEZ finally launched a tender for the largest investment in the modern history of Czechia, for the construction of a new nuclear unit at Dukovany. The unit should be built by 2036.

Three potential bidders will likely enter the official tender – EdF of France, KHNP of South Korea and Westinghouse, while China General Nuclear and Rosatom of Russia are prevented from taking part in the tender. 

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced last week that CEZ could be restructured within two years, in order for the Czech state to have a decisive influence with regard to critical energy infrastructure.