The Elektrárna Dukovany II company of the ČEZ group on 21 June sent a questionnaire and started a safety assessment of three groups interested in the construction of a new nuclear unit at the Dukovany NPP – French company EDF, US-based Westinghouse Electric and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), ČTK news agency reported. Russia’s Rosatom and China General Nuclear (CGN) were not send the questionnaire after the Czech government barred their participation. Under pressure from right-wing political parties in parliament and the security services, the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced its intention to exclude China at the end of March and Rosatom was excluded in mid-April. Russia’s exclusion followed allegations of Russian involvement in explosions at the ammunition complex in Vrbětice in the Zlín region in 2014.

ČEZ spokesman Ladislav Kříž said that all relevant information on security matters would be submitted by candidates to ČEZ by the end of November this year, and that the Czech government would then decide which candidates would be invited to tender. The decision will be taken by the new government after the legislative elections scheduled for October.

ČEZ said the aim of the security assessment is to assess all potential suppliers and obtain the information necessary to safeguard security interests. This mainly involves clarifying the ownership structure, the supply chain, the links of the entities concerned, problems of project implementation, experience in the field of nuclear energy, the transfer technology and know-how and more.

Security guarantees for construction of the new unit will also be enshrined in legislation. Last week, the Chamber of Deputies decided that it will be possible to use only technology from suppliers from countries that have acceded to international agreement on government procurement for the construction of the unit. Russia and China are not among these countries. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry Karel Havlíček agreed with the amendment, calling it a “gentleman’s agreement”. The “Lex Dukovany” was finally accepted by the Chamber after a year’s delay and intense political discussion.

In an interview with Právo, Havlíček said the low-carbon law is related to the construction of other units of the Dukovany nuclear power plant. It provides for the financing of the project and the subsequent purchase prices of electricity but had been delayed by disagreements over security issues (in particular Russian and Chinese particicpation in the tender). The lower house finally agreed to pass the law after Havlíček agreed with the opposition that further security guarantees would to be included in the law by the Senate, which is to consider the bill in July.

Assuming no more delays, the legislation should take effect in January 2022. A meeting at which deputies can vote on the proposal when it is returned from the Senate is expected in early September. However, Havlíček and some other deputies believe an extraordinary meeting could take place during the summer

“We have complete contracts with ČEZ, a financial, investment and supply model has been prepared, we have started notification with the European Commission, and we have prepared a contract for the purchase of electricity with ČEZ. The only thing outstanding was to pass this law,” said Havlíček. “It has become a huge political issue, but I have to respect that, and I am glad that we have found a compromise that allowed it to be approved in the end.”

Meanwhile French and Korean companies are lobbying hard in the run up to the tender. EDF vice-president Vakis Ramany gave interviews to a number of Czech publications in early May. “We want to submit to the Czech Republic an offer that will be French, based on French technologies with a European supply chain in cooperation with Czech suppliers,” he said in an interview with Radiožurnál. 

He said EDF “fully understand” the requirements of the security assessment “will answer the questions carefully to clarify all security aspects of our offer”. However, he noted that the six-month deadline for submitting a bid “is rather among the shorter ones, given the scope and complexity of this project” and a few more months “would be even better”. He said talks were already underway with partners such as General Electric for turbine production and Bouygues for building construction as well as Czech companies. “So far, we have selected 175 Czech suppliers”, he said.

KHNP has been applying for the project since 2016 and like the other bidders, says it seeks co-operation the Czech companies. It is offering an APR1000 reactor. "It is based on our proven technology. The reference reactor is the APR1400, which is already in operation at Shin-Kori 3 and 4, as well as others under construction in Korea and the United Arab Emirates,” KHNP manager Harry Chang told Práva.

Chong Che-hun, KHNP president and director and Mun Song-wuk, the Korean minister of trade, industry and energy, met with Havlíček and Prime Minister Andrej Babis in Prague on 18 June. KHNP followed up on the meetings by concluding memoranda of understanding with the Alliance of Czech Energy and the Sigma Group. The head of KHNP also met with representatives of the region and municipalities around Dukovany in the Třebíč region and gave them material donations worth about €40,000 euros, including electronic appliances and educational materials for local schools and public institutions. He also signed an extension of the contract for sponsoring the SK Horácká Slavia Třebíč hockey team.

"The maximum involvement of Czech companies in the supply chain is very important for us, which is why we addressed a large number of them,” said Chong. “Thanks to this, KHNP has already concluded a preliminary agreement with about 160 Czech companies, which we would like to involve in the project for the completion of Dukovany. Examples are CPIA, Sigma, Nuvia, I&C Energo, MICo, TES and Škoda Power. We firmly believe that with a strong partnership of our democratic countries, together we will be able to find the best solution for sustainable, affordable and low-carbon energy for the Czech Republic.”