Committee Recommends Development of Small and Medium-Sized Reactors to Meet Czech Republic’s Energy Challenges

The committee responsible for constructing new nuclear sources has presented a comprehensive plan to the Czech government, recommending the development of small and medium-sized reactors in the country. With energy challenges looming not only in the Czech Republic but also across Europe, it has become increasingly crucial to ensure adequate energy supplies for both industrial and civilian use. Jozef Síkela, the Minister of Industry and Trade and Chairman of the Committee, emphasized the importance of nuclear energy in meeting these needs while addressing the impacts of Russian aggression and decarbonization.

To reflect the significance of nuclear energy, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is currently working on updating the State Energy Concept, which will prioritize nuclear energy alongside renewable energy sources. The plan includes preparations for a new reactor in Dukovany and the construction of additional blocks in both the Dukovany and Temelín power plants.

In addition to large-scale reactors, the committee is considering the implementation of small and medium-sized reactors to supplement the country’s power grid and heating system. Previous analyses have indicated that constructing only three to four large blocks may not be sufficient to meet the country’s future energy demands. As a result, Energetická společnost ČEZ, the state-controlled energy company, plans to collaborate with foreign vendors to operate the first small modular reactor by approximately 2032. ČEZ is currently engaged in negotiations with seven potential suppliers. These future reactors have the potential to replace retiring coal-fired power plants or serve as a sustainable heat source for cities.

The Czech Republic aims to have as many as ten operational nuclear sources by 2045. The size of the reactors will depend on the chosen design, but it is estimated that around 3000 megawatts of output will need to be replaced by 2045. To meet this requirement, the construction of ten reactors is anticipated. ČEZ has already signed memoranda of cooperation with several companies, including NuScale, GE Hitachi, Rolls Royce, EDF, Westinghouse, KHNP, and Holtec, to develop small modular reactors. ČEZ intends to actively participate in research and development activities through its subsidiary ÚJV Řež.

Various designs for small modular reactors are currently in progress. For example, EdF’s Nuward project aims to offer a reactor with an output of 340 MW, equivalent to a coal-fired power plant block. Westinghouse is developing the AP 300, a modular reactor based on AP1000, designed to operate for over 80 years. Rolls-Royce’s small modular reactor is projected to have an output of 470 MW and a lifespan of 60 years, with over 90% of its components manufactured in a factory and then transported to the site for installation.

The Czech government’s ambitious plan to develop small and medium-sized reactors will not only address the country’s energy needs but also support its transition to a low-carbon economy. By embracing nuclear energy as a key component of its energy strategy, the Czech Republic aims to secure a sustainable and reliable energy supply for the future.

Article by Prague Forum

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