Myths about the Temelín Power Plant
Electricity consumption has been growing worldwide in spite of economic fluctuations and despite improving consumption efficiency and decreasing energy consumption of appliances as such. According to all analyses and forecasts, the Czech Republic will too hit a time when it will not be possible to cover the necessary needs of industry and households from existing power plants despite optimally deployed energy saving measures.
The Czech Republic cannot do without further investment in the electricity system, even if we optimistically anticipate further reduction in energy intensity in the next years and assume that consumption will stagnate regardless of a desirable growth in industrial production.
The energy industry requires planning for many years ahead. Fuel availability forecasts, the geopolitical context, an effort not to increase energy dependence on neighbouring and distant countries, etc. can all play a role in the planning. The best of all the scenarios considered in the national energy strategy seems to be the one that counts on the completion of two additional units at the Temelín nuclear power plant and does not give up the idea of further development of nuclear energy in the more distant future.
There are several constantly repeated clichés and myths circulating in the media in connection with the completion of the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant. We will try to put them right.
Myth 1: Temelín is paid for by taxpayers and it will make electricity more expensive
The Temelín power plant is not paid for by taxpayers. They did not pay for the existing one and they will not pay for the construction of any additional units. The whole construction is paid for by ČEZ, a. s., using its own funds complemented by loans. The company has never received any government money for its power plants.
Likewise, the construction of any new units under consideration would be paid for by ČEZ using its own money and bank loans. The cost of the construction project is still to be tendered by contractors. There is also the possibility to obtain a strategic partner for the investment.
The price of electricity for consumers is only determined by the situation on the market and/or the Energy Regulatory Office’s decision and has nothing to do with the cost of the completion of the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant.
Myth 2: Promise of cheaper electricity for the power plant’s neighbourhood
Unfortunately, it is true that at the time the decision on the construction of the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant was made, in the early 1980s when there was a completely different regime in the Czech Republic, the then party leaders and government officials promised similar benefits for the region. It must be said that at that time probably nobody could guess there would be a market environment in the Czech Republic in a few years and something like that would be totally impossible.
An electricity supplier must deliver electricity to all their customers under the same, equal conditions. Otherwise, they would be approached by the anti-monopoly office, who supervises fair competition. Therefore, it is not possible to give such preferential treatment to any group of customers. Moreover, the supplier of the majority of electricity in the power plant’s neighbourhood today is a competitor, the German company E.On.
Such a promise cannot be made anymore – this would really be unfair for the power plant’s surroundings.
Myth 3: The public was deceived concerning consumption
The government made its decision on the completion of the Temelín power plant in 1992 primarily on the basis of an electricity demand estimate prepared by a Belgian consulting firm, Tractebel. The chart clearly shows that the estimates from that time do not differ much from the reality; on the contrary, their accuracy is almost astonishing. There never was any deception of citizens.
Electricity consumption in Czech Republic – long-term course
Source: Tractebel, CEZ, EGÚ Brno
A power plant is something that cannot be built overnight or with the exact capacity that is needed at the moment. The former is totally impossible and the latter is too expensive. That is why power plants are built in advance throughout the world, to be able to cover future needs.
From ČEZ’s point of view, Temelín’s 2,000 MW is not an increase in power plant capacities but the cheapest and up-to-date replacement of outdated coal-fired units with the same capacity that ČEZ was shutting down in the 1990s as promised. Likewise, Units 3 and 4 will be a replacement for gradually retired coal-fired units that are running short of fuel and useful life.
Myth 4: Deception concerning the decommissioning of lignite-fired power plants
Coal-fired power plant retirement programme
Generation and boiler units with a total capacity of 1,965 MW have been gradually decommissioned under the retirement programme. This completely fulfils the promise given; Temelín has replaced outdated coal-fired units with the same capacity.
Roadmap for the retirement of ČEZ’s coal-fired units by 2000
ČEZ’s total installed capacity grew just by the capacity of the Dlouhé stráně pumped storage plant (2 x 325 MW), which is however very important for energy accumulation, helping the power control system balance fluctuations in electricity generation and momentary consumption. Additional installed capacities in coal-fired power plants will be retired gradually from 2016 to 2023, as stricter emission limits will begin to apply, coal-fired power plants will be reaching the end of their lifespan and will not be worth renewing and coal will be running low.
This means that more than 1,800 megawatts of coal-fired plant capacity may be retired by 2020 throughout the Czech Republic (i.e. not only in CEZ Group’s plants). CEZ Group’s contribution to the replacement of those plants should be mainly the two new nuclear units at Temelín, plus upgraded and more efficient hydro plants and increased volumes of production from biomass combustion.
Share of CEZ production capacity in the Czech Republic (installed capacity)