Czech state-owned power utility CEZ expects to be able to restart unit 1 of its Dukovany NPP at the end of January and unit 2 by mid-February following unplanned outages.
Three of the four 510MWe VVER units at Dukovany have been off line since September due to faults in pipe welding and poor quality of inspection, detected by the State Nuclear Safety Office (SUJB). This led to the shutdowns of units 2 and 3 and the extension of a planned outage at unit 1. Unit 3 was returned to the grid on 28 December. Unit 4 has been running but is scheduled for a routine fuel exchange soon.
Dukovany will need to extend fuel exchange shutdowns next year to complete technical checks, SUJB head Dana Drabova said on Czech Television. "If everything goes as it should, the (fuel exchange) shutdowns could be two to three weeks longer," she said. Dukovany's current problems have two causes, she explained. One is the plant's excellent results over the past 30 years, which have led to certain self-satisfaction and a fall in attention to detail, such as a thorough supervision over suppliers. "The second one is economic pressure for so-called effectivity," Drabova said. Power output last year from Dukovany fell 18% compared with 2014 to 126TWh. When fully operational, the plant accounts for one-fifth of The Czech Republic's total electricity demand.
The outages have cost CEZ more than CZK3bn ($120m) in revenue this year and CEZ cut its 2015 profit forecast as a result. In November CEZ cut its outlook for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) by CZK4bn to CZK64bn, the second cut in two quarters, mainly due to the outages."
Problems at Dukovany started at the beginning of autumn last year, when an inspection revealed that x-ray pictures of welds were of poor quality. Two criminal complaints have been lodged in connection with the problematic x-ray pictures - one by CEZ and the other by SUJB, CEZ board member Ladislav Stepanek said. An investigatory commission is expected to announce the main causes of the problems, to name those responsible and to propose possible measures at the end of March. "We are already adopting measures in the supplier system of maintenance in order to prevent similar situations from repeating," Stepanek said.