Czech utility CEZ's reported a 4% increase in operating revenues in 2015, despite an 11% decrease in production from nuclear energy, mainly due to unscheduled outages at the Dukovany NPP and extended regular outages at Temelín NPP. Net income was CZK27.7bn ($1.16bn) which exceeded original expectations by more than CZK700m, despite a further decrease in prices of generated electricity and lower production at nuclear stations, CEZ said. Dukovany 1 and 2 resumed commercial operation in February after being shut down in August 2015 for checks on pipe welding following the discovery that a sub-contractor had carried out flawed X-Ray examinations at the facility. CEZ said the inspections took longer than expected. Unit 2 at Temelín was offline during the summer for a refuelling and maintenance outage that was extended because of a leak in one of the four steam generators. The Czech Republic generates about 36% of its electricity from its six commercially operational reactors at Dukovany (four units) and Temelín (two units).
Meanwhile, Russia's Chepetsky Mechanical Plant (part of Fuel Company Tvel) has fabricated the first batch of new fuel rod cladding for the second generation for VVER-440 reactors at Dukovany. Use of the cladding, which is made of sponge zirconium, will begin this year. Fuel "with increased uranium content and thinner cladding" has been deployed at Dukovany since 2014, industry sources said. Dukovany's VVER-440 reactor fuel has achieved a zero-failure level. Fuel rods with the new cladding is also planned for use at VVER-440 reactors in Slovakia, Hungary and Finland.