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Temelín could be home to the first small modular reactor in the Czech Republic

Translated by Milo Dvorak

1. 4. 2024

Business Newsletter #21

Published by ČT24 on 31 March 2024.

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Small modular reactors as a part of the future of energy. The company ČEZ wants to decide by the end of this year which firm will build the first facility of its kind in the Czech Republic. They plan to have a smaller reactor operational in Temelín by the mid-2030s.

The first small modular reactor in the Czech Republic is planned to be built in the Temelín nuclear power station area. Its output may not be so small, however, with some considered designs being roughly equivalent to the existing units in Dukovany. The Nuclear Research Institute in Řež is also focused on the development of smaller sources.

"We are actually developing three designs of small reactors, of various generations with different intended purposes," explained small reactor specialist Jiří Duspiva. For example, a design being created in the experimental hall will also serve for testing individual components specifically for small modular reactors.

Experts see many advantages in smaller reactors. Although, one of the major significant obstacles is that no relevant project exists yet. "A moderate investment is required to slash down the construction time. There's an effort to make the station less complicated," described Duspiva.

In the Czech Republic, smaller nuclear sources could gradually replace coal-powered stations. ČEZ aims to build small reactors with a capacity of up to 3,000 megawatts by the end of 2045. The government's State Energy Concept also plans for their construction. "We are working on the development of small modular reactors. We are looking for ways to finance everything in the future," stated Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS).

How much will it cost?

The cost is not yet known. ČEZ has previously signed memoranda of cooperation on such sources with seven companies. "We have narrowed it down to the three most significant ones, as we feel they are the most advanced in their development; we are currently negotiating with them," said ČEZ CEO Daniel Beneš.

The projects of the companies vary in both performance and technology. One thing is clear, to build the reactor by the mid-2030s is an ambitious plan.

"It's doable by 2032, although very ambitious. I think everyone in the industry agrees, but it will require a lot of cooperation and definitely strong partnership with all involved parties," stated Rita Baranwal, Vice President for Small Modular Reactors at the North American company Westinghouse.

Roman Zdebor, the director of the Czech branch of the French company EDF, has mentioned that the project is very important for the company. "The Czech Republic is our long-term, and I would say, key partner in Europe, not only because of the project itself but also because of the collaboration with Czech companies," he said.

According to ČEZ, besides the first reactor in Temelín, small modular blocks could also be built in Dětmarovice and Tušimice, where coal power stations are currently located, albeit the company is also exploring other locations.

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