Czechs bet on nuclear power for their future

Oct 31, 2011 by Jan Marchal
View of the four cooling towers of Temelin Nuclear Power Plant behind a grain field in the village of Temelin. The Czech Republic is poised to build on its position as central Europe's nuclear hub, seeking greater energy security and shrugging off the concerns of environmentalists and other opponents.

The Czech Republic is poised to build on its position as central Europe's nuclear hub, seeking greater energy security and shrugging off the concerns of environmentalists and other opponents.

It is a cool-headed approach, in the wake of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant earlier this year which has prompted Germany, the Czech Republic's neighbour, to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

Italy and Switzerland have also put nuclear power plans on ice.

"The development of nuclear power is a fundamental priority," says Daniel Benes, chief executive and chairman of the Czech power giant CEZ, two-thirds state-controlled.

"If we lose nuclear power, we will find ourselves at the mercy of Russian gas. There's no other way. won't cover our (energy) needs," he arguess.

As Europe's second largest power exporter and central Europe's largest nuclear energy providor, CEZ runs the in Dukovany, in the southeastern Czech Republic, and in Temelin, in the southwest.

Its two produce one-third of the country's total power output but the share is expected to grow to 50 percent around 2025 with two new reactors at Temelin.

By 2060, is expected to account for 80 percent of the mix, according to a revamped energy strategy drafted by the Czech industry ministry and due to be submitted to the government by the end of the year.

"With the plan foreseeing an 80-percent cut in by 2050 and the development of , it would be difficult not to raise the nuclear part," said Pavel Vlcek, spokesman for the ministry.

The plan has become a real concern for , who favour .

"Of course renewable sources are equally expensive but their costs are falling," said Vojtech Kotecky of the Duha (Rainbow) movement. "The government should try to boost the sector, not stifle it," he added.

The current national energy strategy suggests renewables could cover 15 percent of Czech power consumption by 2030.

Three groups, led by France's Areva, Russia's Atomstroiexport and the US giant Westinghouse are bidding for a deal to build the two new units at Temelin, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Prague.

Estimated to cose 20 billion euros ($28 billion), the contract also includes an option to build a reactor at Dukovany and two others at the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear plant in neighbouring Slovakia.

The government expects to receive bids next year.

Planned in the communist era and launched in 2000, Temelin comprises two Russian-type VVER pressurised-water reactors, each with output of 1,000 megawatts, made by Czech company Skoda Plzen and equipped by Westinghouse.

Contrary to popular belief, the reactors are different from the RBMK-type that exploded at the Chernobyl plant in the former Soviet Union in 1986, in what is still regarded as the world's worst-ever nuclear disaster.

The Dukovany plant launched in 1985 comprises four VVER reactors with a capacity of 440 megawatts each, also produced by Skoda Plzen.

Besides the expansion of Temelin and the potential construction of a new unit at Dukovany, the Czech government has mentioned the possibility of building a third nuclear plant in Blahutovice in the northeast of the country around 2040.

A plot of land in the village "is reserved for the construction of a large power station, which could be nuclear but not necessarily," said Roman Portuzak, head of the department for electric energy at the industry ministry.

Czech power stations -- like others in eastern European countries -- have been criticised by Austria, which has cast doubts on their safety.

"Six months after the terrible Fukushima disaster in Japan, our neighbours have learned no lessons," Austrian Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich said recently.

But the Czech government's nuclear safety authority (SUJB) insists the accusation is unfounded.

"The SUJB, just like the other European nuclear security offices, examines all incidents that occur in nuclear plants across the world and adopts adequate measures," said SUJB vice-president Petr Brandejs.

The safety level of Czech nuclear plants is "at least comparable to that at other European plants," he added.

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Pete1983
3.3 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2011
It's good to see a country still embracing nuclear power. I'm convinced most countries who are against nuclear power only do so because people don't know a single thing about it.

Really it's quite frustrating. I live in Australia and the main objections to nuclear power are something along the line of:

"What if spiderman happened and he wasn't nice?"

Or something similar.

Seriously, ask someone against nuclear power what they believe radiation to be. You can get some seriously funny answers.
Grizzled
2 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2011
Absolutely Pete. The level of ignorance surrounding the issue is unbelievable. I once skimmed through yet another Green booklet about the "dangers" of nuclear power. Nothing new there until I came to tne bit about the cow's milk.

It went like that: nucleotides (hrrm already:-) make their way into the milk and are especially dangerous there because many people don't BOIL the milk.

Say what?

And that's the kind of argument many people buy into.
rawa1
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2011
Both USA, France, both Russia are convincing us to embrace their technology by now... As a proponent of cold fusion and a Czech citizen I feel pretty upset with such decision. It's a complete waste of money, especially in the light of the fact, the vast majority of European countries have already decided to turn their backs on nuclear energy.
ShotmanMaslo
2 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2011
Neighbouring Slovakia, my homeland, is also planing to increase nuclear output. Besides being essential for our energetical future, we will be glad to sell our cheap power to wealthy Germany. For a fat profit, lol.

As for renewables, when these prove to be capable of powering future post-cheap oil (read:electric cars everywhere) modern economy, and do it for a good price, I will be the first to call for abandonment of nuclear. But not a second sooner. Hippies be damned.
rawa1
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2011
we will be glad to sell our cheap power to wealthy Germany. For a fat profit
It's short-seeing strategy, as the Germany will become independent to external sources of energy soon and our countries will remain oriented to export of energy and bulk commodities without value added. This is one of reasons, why countries like the China are becoming rich gradually: they're more and more oriented to export of final products. In this article you can see, the more the economy is diverted, the more the country becomes rich.

http://www.physor...est.html
http://www.physor...dge.html

Not to say, when cold fusion will arrive, whole our economies will collapse, because nobody will actually need our centralized sources of energy.

So if you think, the flexible orientation to export of energy is a win-win strategy, then you're just plain wrong. You're losing from first moment of the adoption of such strategy.
epsi00
3 / 5 (2) Oct 31, 2011
Just like Japan did, the Czechs will find out one day that they bet on the wrong horse.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2011
@epsi00 - Japan did not bet on the wrong horse. In fact, I'd argue that there's no "right" horse per se. But, the problems in Japan's nuclear industry were many. Among them, bureaucratic failures that have nothing to do with whether or not this technology itself is worthy.

@rawa1 - I know you've spoken about cold fusion here and on other PhysOrg posts. Ad Nauseum, I should really say. The reality is, cold fusion does NOT exist. If it ever does, then it would be good to discuss its merits.

Meanwhile, nuclear is one of the very few technologies in existence which can meet our energy needs in a relative clean, safe, fashion.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (2) Oct 31, 2011
Absolutely Pete. The level of ignorance surrounding the issue is unbelievable. I once skimmed through yet another Green booklet about the "dangers" of nuclear power. Nothing new there until I came to tne bit about the cow's milk.

It went like that: nucleotides (hrrm already:-) make their way into the milk and are especially dangerous there because many people don't BOIL the milk.

Say what?

And that's the kind of argument many people buy into.


OK, this was just too amusing not to comment on. Who knew boiling was a safe way to get rid of those pesky nuclear wastes? hehe
pres68y
5 / 5 (1) Oct 31, 2011
Interesting that there is plenty of money and technology to make depleted uranium ordinance that can be hand carried and lay around for years with much of a problem.
But there is no technology for irradiation of nuclear fuel?
Perhaps not as much profit in saving lives as there is in killing them.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (3) Oct 31, 2011
what's amazing is that if anyone should want to destroy czech...all you have to do is take the reactors offline. you don't even have to bomb them, jsut bomb the powerlines that are coming out of the factory.

concentrated sources of power are strategic choke points. a nation that got its energy from a very distributed set of energy sources ( small arrays of solar and wind all over ) is a nation whose energy infrastructure is robust and not easily destroyed in an attack.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (2) Oct 31, 2011
what's amazing is that if anyone should want to destroy czech...all you have to do is take the reactors offline. you don't even have to bomb them, jsut bomb the powerlines that are coming out of the factory.

concentrated sources of power are strategic choke points. a nation that got its energy from a very distributed set of energy sources ( small arrays of solar and wind all over ) is a nation whose energy infrastructure is robust and not easily destroyed in an attack.


or a stuxnet virus.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2011
"...if anyone should want to destroy czech...all you have to do is take the reactors offline."

The Czech Republic currently operates two nuclear power stations: TemelĂ­n and Dukovany.

So, you are under the impression that you could "destroy" the entire country by taking two reactors offline?

And forgetting that questionable logic for a moment, just how many countries do you think could destroy even these two? The Czech Republic is a NATO ally, and is protected by the military might of (among others) the U.S., Britain, France and Germany. So, who exactly would even have a chance to do this?

I can think of:
- China
- Russia
- India

Of the non-Nato nations with the strength to do this. And I've got news for you, if any of these countries attack, in spite of their NATO protection, those two nuclear plants would be the LEAST of your concerns.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2011
rawa1 - Germany wont become energy independent, they are already increasing imports and building new fossil power plants, due to nuclear power phaseout:

http://depletedcr...il-fuel/

This is the practical result of nuclear phobia.

And Czech Republic is indeed developing knowledge economy - in adition to building new nuclear plants (which is a knowhow in itself), they research advanced Gen IV nuclear technologies like Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor with Japan:
http://www.torium...ion1.pdf

LFTR is the most promising energy source currently known to man, and its REAL compared to cold fusion. And there are no significant technical obstacles compared to hot fusion. I believe it will be our energy silverbullet once the fossil fuels run out:
http://en.wikiped..._reactor
wwqq
3 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2011
It's short-seeing strategy, as the Germany will become independent to external sources of energy soon and our countries will remain oriented to export of energy and bulk commodities without value added.


Germany grows ever more hopelessly dependent on russian natural gas and imported electricity by the day.

If Germany is going to shut down nuclear(leaving the coal plants that cause the equivalent of a handful of chernobyls per year through particulate pollution) and build ever more wind and solar power I would say exporting electricity to Germany is a sure bet and a good long term plan for the next half-century or more.
wwqq
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2011
concentrated sources of power are strategic choke points.


Then why are you advocating renewables?

Wind and solar power are the most centralized source of power ever invented. Weather systems are frequently the size of a continent; meaning all solar panels and all wind farms in an entire country act as a single, unreliable power plant.

The proposed solutions are to build continent-spaning HVDC grids; you don't even need to destroy them, you can just flip a switch on the other side of the border to throw a country into blackouts and rolling blackouts. Also vulnerable to geomagnetic storms.

Another proposed solution is storage. There's not enough lead in the world to use batteries so it's going to be handled with giant dams.

The de facto solution, as observed with Germany, is to build a giant gas pipeline to Russia.
rawa1
2 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2011
Then why are you advocating renewables? Wind and solar power are the most centralized source of power ever invented.
On the contrary, they're distributed sources (and very diluted ones). The Sun shines at all areas of Earth.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2011
But to use it for power generation, it must be of sufficient intensity, which often not the case even during the day (winter, cloud cover, areas too north/south of the equator), not even talking about the night.

Concentrated solar thermal with molten salt storage might finally be viable technology for areas with a lot of sun, but even that wont be enough for the whole base load power requirements.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2011
I can think of:
- China
- Russia
- India...
...those two nuclear plants would be the LEAST of your concerns.
Easy guys, Czechia is already bought with Russians and Chinese and occupied with Gypsies. These countries are least of our concerns... Our nuclear plants are really the only problem we have by now.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2011
I can think of:
- China
- Russia
- India...
...those two nuclear plants would be the LEAST of your concerns.
Easy guys, Czechia is already bought with Russians and Chinese and occupied with Gypsies. These countries are least of our concerns... Our nuclear plants are really the only problem we have by now.


You didn't include the rest of the post. I was commenting in response to his earlier comment, in which he claimed that there was some militarily significant argument against nuclear due to the threat of these plants being brought down.