ČEZ prepares for delivery of Westinghouse fuel to Dukovany

16 February 2024

Czech power company CEZ said is preparing for the delivery of nuclear fuel from US-based Westinghouse as part of its fuel diversification strategy. At the end of this year, the first delivery of Westinghouse fuel assemblies should arrive at Dukovany. Planned deliveries for Temelín will follow several months later, said Marek Sviták, CEZ spokesman at Temelín. “The diversification of fuel supplies is one of the key steps for strengthening the energy security of the Czech Republic. At the same time, the expected fuel will make possible extended fuel campaigns at all Czech nuclear units.”

Four VVER-440 units are currently in operation at the Dukovany site, which began operating between 1985 and 1987. Two VVER-1000 units are in operation at Temelín, which began operation in 2000 and 2002.

CEZ began a process of diversifying its fuel suppliers in line with European Union policy with a tender in 2018. Previously fuel was supplied by Russian fuel company TVEL. CEZ still has some TVEL fuel assemblies in storage for both NPPs including at least a year’s fuel for Dukovany.

In 2022 contracts were with Westinghouse and Framatome for the VVER-1000 units at Temelin. In 2022 CEZ also decided to increase its fuel reserves stored at the NPPs to improve energy security. Bohdan Zronek, Director of the Nuclear Energy Division for CEZ, said that the company was currently completing the expansion of storage space at Dukovany, with the aim of keeping at least three years' supply.

In 2019, six Westinghouse test fuel assemblies were inserted into the Temelín 1 reactor core to verify their properties and the results are now being evaluated by experts from both Westinghouse and CEZ.

Westinghouse fuel was previously used at Temelín from 2002 to 2009 but following technical problems including fuel deformation and incomplete rod insertion, TVEL was selected as fuel supplier. TVEL in 2006 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 CEZ decided to immediately switch to TVEL fuel in 2010 and the remaining Westinghouse fuel was removed. Westinghouse subsequently redesigned its VVER-1000 fuel following similar problems in Ukraine.

However, Westinghouse has only recently designed fuel for VVER-440 reactors, which is now being tested at Ukraine’s Rivne NPP. CEZ said, for Dukovany, Westinghouse will use fuel based on the Rivne design.

Tarik Choho, President of Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel noted: “We have already supplied over 1,500 fuel assemblies for VVER-1000 reactors, which have already been verified by operation without problems and as expected. We plan to bring the latest version to Dukovany, based on fuel assemblies designed for VVER-440 reactors, which are already used at the Rivne NPP in Ukraine. And we believe it will be just as successful.”

CEZ noted that both existing (TVEL) and new types of fuel (Framatome and Westinghouse) meet the requirements for switching to longer fuel campaigns. These will be 16 months in Dukovany and 18 months in Temelín. As a result, CEZ expects to achieve an average annual production of 32 TWh by 2030.

Image: Westinghouse will be supplying fuel assemblies for the Dukovany nuclear power plant (courtesy of CEZ)

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