Output has recently reached 705MWe for the first time. Trial operation of Temelin will begin, now estimated to take place in February, once all tests are completed at 100% output and the plant operates continuously for 144 hours at full capacity.
There was further good news for the troubled plant, as EU Enlargement Commissioner Günther Verheugen issued a statement that said that the Melk process of Temelin’s safety assessment is finished and should be closed. In a letter to Czech Premier Milos Zeman and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, Mr Verheugen said: “All safety concerns have been eliminated.” Since the Czech party has submitted all the required information, the EC believes that the Melk process should now be completed on the political level. The Melk agreement, which proposed that a commission of experts should assess Temelin’s safety and environmental impact by June this year, was signed by Premier Zeman and Chancellor Schüssel last December.
Many Austrian critics of Temelin are now calling for their country to block the energy chapter of the accession talks. Despite its similar criticism of Temelin, Germany has assured the Czech Republic that it will not delay the closing of the energy chapter.
Wolfgang Streitenberger, head of the European Commission delegation in Austria, said that a possible Austrian veto on the Czech Republic’s entry into the EU over the issue would be “an act of unusual self-isolation of a member country.” Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl also said that he was against veto threats to the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, the Belgian power group Electrabel has announced that it has withdrawn its bid for a majority stake in CEZ, the Czech state-controlled electricity company. The company said that its decision had been made after “evaluating the risks and political uncertainties regarding the nuclear part” of the package. The company also claimed that the privatisation process did not give an equal chance to all the bidders.