Czech power company ČEZ have announced that US Westinghouse and France’s Framatome have won the tender to supply nuclear fuel assemblies for the Temelín NPP. Deliveries will start in 2024 and continue for approximately 15 years.  

Three bidders, Framatome, Russia’s TVEL and Westinghouse, had participated in the tender launched in April 2020. “Due to diversification, two suppliers were finally selected so that ČEZ Group could reliably ensure a continuous supply of fuel assemblies for the Temelín reactors in the future, thus minimising the risks of a possible supply outage,” ČEZ said.

The Czech Republic has six commercially operational reactor units: four Russian designed VVER-440 units at Dukovany site, which began operation between 1985 and 1987, and two VVER-1000 units at Temelín, which began operation in 2000 and 2002. Total installed nuclear capacity is 3934MWe accounting for 32.5% of electricity generation.

ČEZ noted that Westinghouse, with a manufacturing plant in Sweden, had previously supplied fuel to Temelín for ten years after its commissioning, while Framatome is the only manufacturer based in the European Union that supplies fuel assemblies to most Western European NPPs. However, while Framatome currently supplies 380 reactors worldwide, it does not supply fuel for Russian design VVER reactors.

TVEL has been supplying fuel to Temelin since 2010, and in 2018 48 modernised fuel assemblies from TVEL were loaded into unit 2 supplementing the original   fuel. TVEL’s current contract ends in 2023. Westinghouse fuel was used at Temelin from 2002 to 2009. However, there were a series of technical problems including fuel deformation and incomplete rod insertion and in May 2006, TVEL won a tender for a 10-year fuel supply contract with delivery to start in 2009. The plan was to phase in the TVEL fuel gradually but in 2009 ČEZ announced that it would immediately switch TVEL fuel in 2010 and the remaining Westinghouse fuel was removed. Westinghouse subsequently redesigned its VVER fuel following similar problems in Ukraine.

The European Union (EU) has been pressing east European states with VVER reactors to diversify their fuel suppliers to reduce dependence on Russia. Temelin began testing Westinghouse fuel in 2019. Bulgaria’s Kozloduy NPP is also preparing to test Westinghouse fuel at units 5 and 6 in order to satisfy EU requirements, and has commissioned a feasibility study from Westinghouse.  

Photo: Temelin nuclear power plant in Czech Republic