Dukovany pre-qualification round announced

26 March 2021

The Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) has selected EDF, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), Rosatom and Westinghouse to participate in a pre-qualification round for a tender to supply a new unit for the Dukovany nuclear power plant. The ministry has not included China General Nuclear (CGN). A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the Czech Republic told Radiožurnál that the exclusion of CGN "seriously deviates from the principle of fair competition and the rules of international trade".

The four VVER-440 units at Dukovany (Image: ČEZ)

The Czech government signed a framework agreement on the construction of the new unit with ČEZ and project company Elektrárna Dukovany II in July 2020. That agreement aimed for ČEZ to hold a tender for the reactor supplier, negotiate a contract and receive all the required licences by 2024, so that the unit can be put into operation in 2036. The government has agreed to provide guarantees for any political or legislative risks the project may face. On 8 March this year, the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) issued a site licence for two new reactor units at the existing Dukovany nuclear power plant site.

In a    statement yesterday, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) said the launch of the selection procedure for the Dukovany tender would be preceded by a safety assessment of the individual candidates, who Elektrárna Dukovany II will invite to submit their proposals by the end of November. ČEZ will then submit this package of information to the government, which will decide which candidates will be invited to bid for the project. MIT noted that such pre-qualification of candidates is a common practice recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The information required by the end of November includes the "structure, ownership and financial indicators" of each potential vendor for the Dukovany project - the main contractor and subcontractors and, where appropriate, the members of a consortium or joint venture. Compliance with cybersecurity and nuclear safety control system requirements, quality control throughout the supply chain, and technology transfer are also among the types of information that need to be included, MIT said.

Karel Havlíček, Minister of Industry and Trade and also deputy prime minister, said the safety assessment "accommodates those who doubted in any way the fulfilment of safety requirements", adding that this process "would not significantly delay" the tender itself. The dates for the start of construction and the commissioning of the new unit remain unchanged, he said.

The ministry's statement included a timetable for the next stages in the project as follows:

  • April 2021-December 2021 security assessment phase of potential candidates;
  • December 2021 government approves list of candidates for call for tender;
  • 2022-2023 tender process and negotiations with suppliers;
  • 2023 approval of the preferred supplier;
  • 2023-2024 negotiation, finalisation and signing of a contract with the preferred supplier;
  • 2029 start of construction; and
  • 2036 commissioning.

The government formed after elections to the Czech lower house of parliament at the end of October will decide which of the four companies will be invited to take part in the tender, MIT said.

Jaroslav Míl, the government's nuclear commissioner, said earlier this month that the new unit will be fully financed by the state.

Four VVER-440 units are currently in operation at the Dukovany site, which is in Vysočina Region. ČEZ applied to SÚJB to construct two new reactors there in March 2020.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News