Czech power company CEZ Group has concluded contracts with US-based Westinghouse and France’s Framatome for the supply of fuel assemblies for the Temelín NPP. Both suppliers, were selected in a tender in April. Deliveries of assemblies for more than 10 years will begin in 2024. The value of the contract is “in the order of billions of crowns” (CZK1bn+ $42m).

"Of course, we selected the best offers with regard to both safety and price. At the same time, however, our goal was to diversify the number of suppliers in order to minimise the risk of possible supply failures for any reason," explained Ladislav Štěpánek, Director of the Fuel Cycle Department at CEZ.

“We welcome the decision of ČEZ group to diversify its nuclear fuel supply and to select Westinghouse as a supplier of nuclear fuel for Temelin Nuclear Power Plant. Westinghouse has developed and supplied for many years our own VVER fuel designs for both the VVER 1000 and the VVER 440 types of reactors. We are extremely happy that our successful experience in supplying VVER fuel is going to benefit CEZ," said Tarik Choho, President of EMEA Operating Plant Services.

“Framatome is pleased to have been chosen by ČEZ as supplier to contribute to the Temelin plant’s fuel security of supply,” said Lionel Gaiffe, Senior Executive Vice President, Fuel Business Unit at Framatome. “This is the result of a long-term partnership between ČEZ and Framatome and demonstrates the confidence of ČEZ in the reliability of our fuel solution regarding their need and requirement to produce low carbon energy in Czech Republic”.

Previously fuel was supplied by Russian fuel company TVEL. Currently, ČEZ has fuel assemblies for approximately two years of operation. The volume of the stock at the Dukovany NPP is even greater, ČEZ said. "We decided to increase the stockpile at both NPPs in 2016. As a result, we have enough assemblies at Dukovany for approximately three years of operation of all the units. Of course, we continue to think about the diversification of suppliers," added Bohdan Zronek, a member of the Board of Directors and Director of the Nuclear Power Division.

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. TVEL has supplied fuel to Temelin since 2010 and its current contract ends in 2023.

Westinghouse fuel was used at Temelin from 2002 to 2009 but following technical problems including fuel deformation and incomplete rod insertion. 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 TVEL fuel in 2010 and the remaining Westinghouse fuel was removed. Westinghouse subsequently redesigned its VVER-1000 fuel following similar problems in Ukraine. However, as yet, neither Westinghouse nor Framatome has designed fuel for VVER-440 reactors, although Westinghouse is in the process of doing so. It is not known when it will be ready for testing or commercial use.

Image: The Temelín nuclear power plant (photo courtesy of CEZ)