Nuclear the only possibility, says Czech PM

06 November 2007

The Czech Republic must discuss the possibility of expanding its nuclear power use as it faces a future where it is increasingly dependent on energy imports, prime minister Mirek Topolanek has told a Prague energy conference.

In what some commentators have described as his strongest speech yet in support of expanding Czech nuclear energy, Topolanek told the European Energy Forum meeting on ways to cut European Union dependence on energy imports that his country's time of being self-sufficient in electricity production was coming to an end. While Topolanek told the meeting that the Czech government needed to update its energy strategy to 2050, he stopped short of saying whether the government would address the nuclear issue. The current policy of the Czech Republic's coalition government, in which the anti-nuclear Green party holds several key government positions, is not to discuss nuclear power at all, but Topolanek took the opportunity to call for an "open discussion of nuclear power." The Green Party needed to be part of the discussion, he said.

Looking to the future, Topolanek noted, the Czech Republic would become dependent on energy imports, with coal-fired plants increasing the country's greenhouse gas emissions. "Only one possibility remains - nuclear energy," he said, urging Bulgaria, France, Finland, Slovakia and the Baltic countries to support a "nuclear energy renaissance."

A spokesman for Czech power group CEZ says the company would be ready to start work on new nuclear power plants straight away if the government were to agree. Ladislav Kriz told journalists the company would begin preparation work promptly in the case of "a political and societal agreement." CEZ owns and operates the Czech Republic's two nuclear power stations, and plans have long been mooted for the construction of two further nuclear units at the existing Temelin nuclear power station. The existing nuclear plants supplied 31.5% of the country's electricity in 2006.

Further information

CEZ

WNA's Nuclear Power in Czech Republic information paper

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