ČEZ steps up preparations for arrival of Westinghouse fuel

14 February 2024

Czech nuclear power plant operator ČEZ says that its fuel diversification strategy will see the first Westinghouse VVER fuel delivered to its Dukovany nuclear power plant at the end of the year.

Dukovany (Image: ČEZ)

Six test Westinghouse fuel assemblies were delivered for the first unit at the Temelin nuclear power plant in 2019. The results are being studied by experts in both companies and they contributed to the preparation and specification of the fuel that the power plant will receive for the first time in the first half of next year.

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 came into operation in 2000 and 2002. For the VVER-440 fuel being supplied to Dukovany, Westinghouse is using a fuel assembly design based on fuel it is already supplying to the Rivne nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Tarik Choho, president of Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel, said: "We have already delivered over 1500 fuel assemblies for VVER-1000 type reactors, which have been verified to operate as expected and without problems". He said the plan for Dukovany is to use a version based on the latest VVER-440 fuel assemblies which are already used by the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.

Bohdan Zronek, Director of the Nuclear Energy Division for ČEZ, said that the company was currently completing the expansion of storage space at Dukovany, with the aim of keeping at least three years' supply.

ČEZ began a process of diversifying its fuel suppliers with a 2018 tender process, with contracts signed in 2022 for Westinghouse and Framatome relating to Temelin, and a 2023 contract with Westinghouse for Dukovany. It has previously received fuel supplied by Russia's TVEL. In 2022 it also decided to increase its fuel reserves stored at the nuclear power plants, to boost energy security. It also says the new fuel types meet the requirements of the switch to longer fuel cycles - of 16 months at Dukovany and 18 months at Temelin.

The Czech Republic uses nuclear power for 34% of its electricity, generating this from the four reactors at Dukovany and two at Temelin. Its current new nuclear plans include up to four new units, as well as a possible roll-out of small modular reactors.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News