Czechs push back tender to complete nuke plant to 2013

19th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Czech prime minister said Tuesday the government would pick the winner in 2013 of a tender to complete the Temelin nuclear power station, a year later than scheduled.

"We expect to issue the documents for bidders in 2011, receive bids in 2012 and pick the winner in 2013, but the tender may also end up without a winner," Petr Necas said after a meeting of the state security council.

Temelin, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Prague, now runs two 1,000-megawatt units.

Three potential bidders have expressed interest in building another two units at the plant since the tender opened last year -- US company Westinghouse, a grouping of Russia's Atomstroiexport and Gidropress with Czech Skoda JS, and France's Areva.

Necas added it was the government who would take decisions on the timetable of the tender, and not the Czech power company CEZ, in which the state owns about 70 percent of shares and which runs the Temelin plant.

"The tender for the completion of Temelin involves considerable security, economic and foreign policy risks. Such a fundamental matter cannot be decided by the managers of a company, even though it's owned by the state," Necas said.

CEZ expected the two new units to produce power from 2020, but the government commissioner for the completion, Vaclav Bartuska, said it was premature to speculate about the date.

"It doesn't make sense to talk about the completion date because the date and the price will be in the bids," he told reporters on Tuesday.

Planned in the communist era and launched in 2000, Temelin -- one of two Czech nuclear power stations -- sparked a long dispute between the Czech Republic and Austria which insists the reactors situated 60 kilometres (37 miles) from its border are not safe.

CEZ expects the new units to use new-generation reactors cutting the construction costs, producing less radioactive waste and ensuring higher efficiency.

It also wants the selected supplier to guarantee one-sided options to build up to three other nuclear units at the CEZ-run southeastern Czech nuclear plant in Dukovany, and at the western Slovak nuclear plant Jaslovske Bohunice.

Local media have put the total value of the contract at 500 billion koruna (20.4 billion euros, 28.3 billion dollars).

© 2010 AFP

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