ČEZ credits public acceptance of new nuclear: Nuclear policies
September 29, 2020
The climate emergency has further boosted Czech support for nuclear energy, Zuzana Krejčiříková, public affairs director of the ČEZ Group, said last week in a webinar hosted by the Expert Group on Resource Management of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The largely state-run utility’s transparent approach to new construction projects has also contributed to public acceptance of the government’s plans to support the expansion of the Dukovany nuclear power plant, she said.
In July last year, the government announced that it would provide ČEZ with loan guarantees to help secure funding for any new reactors, although legislation has yet to be put in place for further development. nuclear power. The commissioning of a 1,000 to 1,200 MW reactor at Dukovany is scheduled for 2036 to eventually replace or add to the four existing units whose shutdown is scheduled between 2035 and 2037. Their operation until 2045-2047 is however under consideration by ČEZ.
This project is part of a larger low-carbon generation sources program targeting a 50% share of nuclear power generation.
In April this year, the government approved the main principles of a state aid measure and further details on a new reactor at Dukovany, the beneficiary of which is Elektrárna Dukovany II (EDU II), the established company to be the owner of the project. On July 28, the government, ČEZ and EDU II sign the first contracts, the framework agreement and the first performance contract accompanying a draft law on measures for the transition of the Czech Republic to low carbon energy.
“I think that since the Czech Republic started operating nuclear power plants, there was and still is great public support for nuclear power, and there are two main reasons for this: we have operated the power plants completely. security and we inform the public in a timely and open manner. way about what’s going on with the plants. says Krejčiříková. “Since we published our plans for a new nuclear build, public acceptance has increased from 60% to 63%. The reason I think is that we are the biggest employer of the two regions where the nuclear power plants are based.
The Czech Republic will face a deficit in its electricity production from 2025, reaching large-scale proportions from 2035, she said, adding that in the central European region periods Power shortage in the system is expected to occur in several countries. the same time.
As an export-oriented industrial country, the share of industry in Czech GDP is around 33%, she noted, which is why the government aims to ensure self-sufficiency in production. electricity to cover all the needs of the Czech economy. Czech industry has a long history in the nuclear sector, she said, since around 90% of nuclear power plant equipment is produced in the country. In addition, nuclear energy has been identified as a decarbonisation tool in a number of government policies. These include the national investment plan for 2020-2050; energy and environmental policies; the national action plan for the development of the nuclear energy sector; and the integrated national energy-climate plan.
“When adopting the EU’s carbon neutrality pledge, the Czech Republic and Hungary were involved after ensuring that nuclear energy could be included in the final mix,” said Krejčiříková.
The ČEZ group has around 68% of the Czech market, where the energy mix is still 50% coal, 30% nuclear and the rest is biofuels, gas and renewable energies. The government recently set up a Coal Commission which will set the end date for coal use in the country.
Krejčiříková said that date “will probably be 2038”. She added: “It will be a big challenge for the Czech Republic and for us as a company to replace coal with low-carbon resources, and that is why the government already declared in 2015 that it would opt for renewable energies combined with nuclear. This means that by 2050 we should have 50% nuclear and 50% renewable energy. We cannot go for 100% renewable energies because we do not have the natural conditions [for this] in the Czech Republic.
The annual electricity production and the share of the electricity mix by type of fuel are: coal, 44 TWh (50%); nuclear, 28 TWh (33%); biofuels and waste, 5.1 TWh (6%); natural gas, 3.7 TWh (4%); hydraulic, 3 TWh (3%); solar, 2.2 TWh (3%); and wind power, 0.6 TWh.
Along with the closure of coal-fired power plants, nuclear power plants will approach the end of their current licensed operating periods. The ČEZ Group’s coal production capacity will be halved, from 7.8 GW in 2016 to 3.9 GW in 2025, and even higher, to 2.5 GW in 2035. Full dismantling is planned by now 2050.
Currently, six commercial reactors are operating in the country: four Dukovany units which were commissioned between 1985 and 1987 with a reference lifespan of 30 years, and two Temelin units which were commissioned between 2000 and 2002, with the same benchmark lifetime. .
ČEZ has received “unlimited licenses” to continue operating Dukovany units and plans to apply for the same for Temelin in 2022, Krejčiříková said. The safety review for Temelin’s license extension application has already been completed, she added.
“The political environment has been mostly favorable in the long term and therefore the lifetime of the nuclear power plant has been given according to the natural aging of the equipment and the costs associated with its replacement,” she said. .
Asked about public support for an energy mix that combines nuclear power and renewable energy sources, she said even non-governmental organizations that claim to be opposed to nuclear power agree with plans for new energy. construction.
“Even in the Czech Republic, we have a lot of anti-nuclear NGOs,” she said. “But we have full transparency and openly discuss what is going on in our plants and our plans, and that is why Czech NGOs fully support new constructions because they know that there is no other option than to opt for nuclear and renewable energies in the Czech Republic, otherwise we will not meet our climate targets.
Research and writing by World Nuclear News