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Waste, Emissions, and Pollution

Emissions of Pollutants

GRI 3-3, 305-7; SASB IF-EU-120a.1 / SDG 3, SDG 12

In CEZ Group, regarding emissions of pollutants, as with decarbonization, the Board of Directors is responsible for the Environmental Protection and Safety Policy and the Energy Policy. Environmental protection is based on the Environmental Management System according to ISO 14001 and the Energy Management System according to ISO 50001. The EMS focuses on establishing, monitoring, and improving all activities affecting the quality of the environment, human health, and safety. Within the EMS, we identify environmental risks, create conditions for their prevention and elimination, and report environmental performance. These processes are reviewed regularly in internal and third party external audits. Stakeholders are also considered in the EMS, and their needs and expectations are evaluated and addressed. All employees receive regular EMS and environmental training at least once every two years.

The majority of our fossil-fuel electricity and heating plants have the EMS in place: 98% of installed capacity in 2022. We have achieved our target: 97% of installed capacity with the EMS in place by the end of 2022.

We closely monitor emissions to air from our sources according to current regulations for emission and air quality monitoring and the EMS system. Emissions are continuously measured in large combustion plants; in medium combustion plants (up to 50MW), periodic measurements are performed in line with legislation, or, if not available, emissions are calculated using emission factors. CEZ Group reduces the air pollutants using innovative technologies following best available techniques (BAT):

  • SO2 emissions are reduced using limestone technologies: In large facilities, wet limestone washing of flue gas is used; in small facilities, a semi-dry method with absorption in the lime slurry is used. Emissions are further reduced by replacing fossil fuels with biomass in combustion units.
  • NOx emissions are reduced by primary measures in combustion processes or by reduction techniques with ammonia water or urea.
  • Particulate matter (PM) emissions are reduced in our facilities by electrostatic precipitators or fabric filters; their efficiency is over 99%.
  • Since 2020, we have been installing technologies to capture mercury (Hg) in all our coal-fired power plants and will complete installations by 2024. Since August 2021, we have been continuously monitoring mercury emissions in large combustion plants.

In our VISION 2030—Clean Energy of Tomorrow, we set targets for the reduction of emissions:

  • We will reduce NOX from 23 kt in 2019 to 13 kt in 2025 and 7 kt in 2030
  • We will reduce SO2 from 21 kt in 2019 to 6.5 kt in 2025 and 3 kt in 2030

We have reduced SO2 emissions by 70%, NOx emissions by 44%, and we are well on track to reach our target. The use of BAT technologies has led to a 60% reduction in particulate matter emissions since 2019.

Emissions and Specific Emissions of Air Pollutants
  Unit 2020 2021 2022
Particulate matter (PM) t 1,311 823 635
Particulate matter per electricity and heat generated kg/MWh 0.019 0.013 0.012
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) t 14,253 7,812 6,323
Sulfur dioxide per electricity and heat generated kg/MWh 0.207 0.121 0.102
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) t 19,365 14,306 12,964
Nitrogen oxides per electricity and heat generated kg/MWh 0.281 0.222 0.209
Mercury (Hg)* t 1.410 1.110 0.706
Lead (Pb)** t 1.646 0.896 1.177
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)*** kg N/A N/A 32
Volatile organic compounds (VOC)*** t N/A N/A 25

*Continuously measured since 2021, previously one-off measurements.
**Determined by one-off measurements.
***Reported since 2022. Determined by one-off measurements.

Particulate matter
Sulfur dioxide
Nitrogen oxides

Most of the monitored air pollutants emissions were reduced in 2022 compared to 2021. The amount of PM was reduced by 23%, SO2 by 19%, NOx by 9% and mercury by 37%.

The amount of lead emissions increased in 2022 compared to 2021. The increase in lead emissions in 2022 (with the same fuel base and an increasing standard of flue gas purification, which is evident from the decreasing mercury emissions) is attributed to the high uncertainty in single measurements of pollutants at the level of micrograms per m3 of flue gas.

Resources Used/Materials

GRI 301-1

In CEZ Group, various fuels, such as natural gas, coal, lignite, uranium, and biomass fuels are used to produce electricity, heating and cooling. In 2022, 29% of fuel for energy production was brown thermal coal. In our two nuclear power plants, we used 71.32 tonnes of nuclear fuel to produce 31.02 TWh of emission-free electricity. Nuclear resources produced the largest amount of energy in CEZ Group.

Sorbents for flue gas desulfurization at CEZ Group’s coal-fired power plants in Czechia are delivered under long-term purchase contracts. Sorbent deliveries amounted to 694 thousand tonnes in 2022.

Resources used in the production processes by weight/volume/energy content
Non-renewable materials – fuels
  Total amount (solid (kt), gas (mil m3)) Energy (PJ)
2020 2021 2022 2020 2021 2022
Hard coal 1,450 1,864 1,744 27 36 33
Lignite 12,195 12,434 12,469 136 143 143
Natural gas 850 696 541 29 24 19
Diesel, light fuel oil 3.37 3.07 2.63 0.14 0.13 0.11
Heavy fuel oil 2.24 2.36 2.94 0.09 0.10 0.13
Uranium 0.07 0.07 0.07 300 289 287
Renewable materials – fuels
  Total amount (solid (kt), gas (mil m3)) Energy (PJ)
2020 2021 2022 2020 2021 2022
Solid biofuels 1,193 1,115 912 14.5 12.4 10.4
Liquid biofuels 0.22 0.23 0 0.008 0.008 0
Biogas 1.13 1.13 0 0.039 0.039 0
Non-renewable materials – other
  2020 2021 2022
Limestone (kt) 807 720 757
Lime (kt) 34 41 28
Urea (kt) 6.5 1.1 0.03
Ammonia water (kt) 0.2 0.5 1.5
Waste and Natural Resources

GRI 3-3, 306-1, 306-2, 306-3, 306-4, 306-5; SASB IF-EU-150a.1 / SDG 12

CEZ Group is aware of the growing importance of waste management and protection of finite natural resources throughout all its operations. Thus, waste is seen as a new resource, and principles of circular economy are applied throughout all steps of waste management.

Waste management is based on the Environmental Management System (EMS), which establishes a hierarchy of waste management methods from prevention, preparation for reuse, recycling, and energy recovery to disposal. Waste management is provided by professionally qualified personnel. Specific projects are introduced to reflect our policy and waste prevention.

Circular economy is a sustainable model of production and consumption that extends the lifecycle value optimization of resources and products, reducing waste to a minimum. We have introduced the principles of circular economy into our corporate culture, strategy, and processes of our business activities. The Board of Directors is responsible for waste management and circular economy through the Environmental Protection and Safety Policy.

The waste management hierarchy is followed in all our activities. Waste is delivered to licensed waste treatment facilities. In 2022, 50% of waste was reused or recycled, and 50% was disposed of (of which 31% of waste was sent to a landfill). The reduction in the amount of waste and the waste recovery rate compared to the previous year is due to the fact that an additional part of the energy by-products was transferred to the product regime for further use rather than to the waste recovery regime. Most of our waste consists of construction and demolition waste originating from the demolition of obsolete structures, and sludges from wastewater treatment, waste metals, and municipal waste. ČEZ Recycling, a subsidiary of ČEZ, a. s., applies the principles of circular economy when taking back discarded photovoltaic panels. This will include batteries in the future. In 2022, ČEZ Recycling took back 5,011 photovoltaic panels, which is 72 tonnes.

Coal combustion products, and incineration and desulphurization products (5,098,691 t) are subjected to regular testing and certification as part of waste prevention; 99.8% are further used as these products, thus avoiding waste generation. In 2022, end-of-life products (221 tonnes) were sorted and sent for recycling under the take-back scheme (batteries, accumulators, tires, fluorescent lamps, discarded electrical equipment), thereby prevented from becoming waste.

Waste Generated (t)
  2020 2021 2022
Non-hazardous waste 64,344 59,235 47,738
Hazardous waste 3,035 2,994 1,733
Radioactive waste 313 337 428
Total waste generated 67,692 62,566 49,899
Hazardous Waste Diverted from Disposal (t)
  2020 2021 2021 Onsite 2021 Offsite 2022 2022 Onsite 2022 Offsite
Preparation for reuse N/A 188 0 188 1 0 1
Recycling N/A 584 0 584 271 178 93
Other recovery options N/A 603 0 603 65 0 65
Total hazardous waste diverted from disposal N/A 1,375 0 1,375 337 178 159
Non-hazardous Waste Diverted from Disposal (t)
  2020 2021 2021 Onsite 2021 Offsite 2022 2022 Onsite 2022 Offsite
Preparation for reuse N/A 17,378 0 17,378 6,128 0 6,128
Recycling N/A 14,532 0 14,532 17,152 0 17,152
Composting N/A 20,556 17,005 3,551 15,727 14,882 845
Other recovery options N/A 12,019 7,360 4,659 9,783 9,159 624
Total non-hazardous waste diverted from disposal N/A 64,485 24,365 40,120 48,790 24,041 24,749

Note: CEZ Group facilities also use waste from other generators, the quantities of which are included in composting, other recovery. These are not included in the percentage of own waste recovery.

Hazardous Waste Directed to Disposal (t)
  2020 2021 2021 Onsite 2021 Offsite 2022 2022 Onsite 2022 Offsite
Recovery including energy N/A 154 0 154 296 0 296
Incineration N/A 26 0 26 36 0 36
Landfill N/A 589 0 589 193 0 193
Other disposal options N/A 849 0 849 1,051 0 1,051
Total hazardous waste directed to disposal N/A 1,618 0 1,618 1,576 0 1,576
Non-hazardous Waste Directed to Disposal (t)
  2020 2021 2021 Onsite 2021 Offsite 2022 2022 Onsite 2022 Offsite
Recovery including energy N/A 95 0 95 76 0 76
Incineration N/A 14 0 14 117 0 117
Landfill N/A 10,636 4,683 5,954 16,638 1,498 15,140
Other disposal options N/A 8,370 3,851 4,520 6,158 2,888 3,271
Total non-hazardous waste directed to disposal N/A 19,116 8,533 10,583 22,989 4,386 18,603
Total waste directed to disposal 35,632 21,071 8,871 12,201 24,993 4,814 20,179

Note: The onsite category also includes radioactive waste in the Dukovany repository of 428 tonnes in 2022. Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond with the sum of the separate figures.

Waste Produced per Electricity and Heat Generated (kg/MWh)
  2020 2021 2022
Total weight of non-hazardous waste 0.93 0.92 0.77
Total weight of hazardous waste 0.04 0.05 0.03

In 2022, waste generation decreased from 0.92 kg/MWh of electricity and heat to 0.77 kg/MWh compared to 2021 in the non-hazardous category. Fluctuations in the production of non-hazardous waste are mainly caused by the transfer of wastes from power stations and other combustion plants from the waste regime to the CCPs category: mainly in the Polish power plant Skawina (approx. 11,000 t) and in the power plant Jindřichův Hradec Energy Center (approx. 2,600 t). In the hazardous category, waste production per MWh of electricity and heat generated decreased from 0.05 kg/MWh to 0.03 kg/MWh. Fluctuations in the production of hazardous waste are governed by investment activities (generation of hazardous waste during construction work and demolitions). Hazardous waste accounted for approximately 3.45% of all waste in 2022. Hazardous waste originated mainly from the maintenance and cleaning of plants, primarily from working with oil products.

Our employees recycle waste at our sites with the aim to separate usable components. Waste is collected in appropriate collection bins, the number and location of which is continuously optimized according to actual needs. In addition to the usable components of municipal waste – paper, plastics, glass, bio-waste – we also hand over used oil, metal materials and other usable waste for recycling. The system includes the take-back of electrical and electronic equipment and batteries. Electrical waste is handled by sheltered workshops employing the physically disabled.

In CEZ Group, we regenerate transformer oils. In 2022, the amount of regenerated transformer oil for reuse was 178 tonnes.

During decommissioning of coal-fired power plants, buildings that are no longer useful are demolished, generating large quantities of waste. We conduct pre-demolition waste screening for reusable and hazardous waste, and we manage demolition to maximize waste recovery. At the moment, the demolition of premises of the power plant Prunéřov is underway.

In connection with the disposal of unneeded assets and inventories at individual sites, disposal committees are established to maximize the use of unneeded assets and inventories within CEZ Group or to sell them externally so that the equipment can be used throughout its life cycle.

  • Radioactive Waste

    We manage radioactive waste at nuclear power plants in compliance with Act No. 263/2016 Coll., Atomic Energy Act. Liquid RAW (radioactive concentrate) from the Dukovany and Temelín nuclear power plants is immobilized in bitumen into a form complying with waste acceptance criteria for disposal. The main process equipment is a film rotor evaporator where the concentrate is mixed with bitumen and water is evaporated. The resulting product is filled into 200-liter drums. Solid waste is compacted or incinerated, melted and supercompacted abroad. No incidents have been recorded in the RAW management, procedures for dealing with incidents and corrective measures are set up in management documentation in accordance with the Atomic Energy Act. Further information on radioactive waste management is provided in the Annual Report on the activities of the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority.

  • Coal Combustion Products (CCPs)

    We manage the technological processes of coal and biomass combustion with the aim of utilizing combustion products in the construction industry. We use coal combustion products as construction materials, including fly ash, slag, and desulfurization products (FGD gypsum). Our target was to reuse at least 98% of the coal combustion products by the end of 2022, which we achieved with 99.86% of CCPs utilized. 82.68% of the CCPs were used for landscaping and terrain shaping, and 17.18% of CCPs were sold for other uses in the construction industry. We sold a total of 362,455 tonnes of energy gypsum to produce plasterboards and cement.

  • Waste to Energy (WtE)

    The utilization of waste following the circular economy principles brings new opportunities in the energy sector. CEZ Group has the technical, technological, and personal know-how needed to make the most of these opportunities to help improve the environment and replace primary sources (especially coal).

    A project of a waste-to-energy facility on the Mělník power plant premises is under preparation. The objective of the facility is to thermally utilize residual non-recyclable waste to generate heat and electricity, thus replacing up to 3,000 wagons of coal on the site per year. As such, a WtE facility is an important component of circular economy.

  • Wastewater Management

    We handle wastewater following current regulations and EMS, i.e., wastewater is treated to fulfill the requirements before being discharged into surface water. Further, water is monitored for pollutants at the outlets; selected pollutants are monitored continuously. We regularly report the results of the monitoring to relevant authorities and river basin managers. Wastewater from once-through cooling systems, representing most of the volume of wastewater discharged, is only altered in temperature. We handle discharged water so that it does not change the conditions in watercourses that are important for the life and development of biotic communities. In 2022 compared to 2021, the total volume of wastewater discharged, including water for once-through cooling system, increased from 6.88 m3 to 7.91 m3/MWh. The volume of wastewater, excluding wastewater from once-through cooling system, increased from 0.69 m3 to 0.71 m3/MWh. We reuse wastewater when possible; the reuse of wastewater increased by 32.8% year-on-year. Wastewater from the nuclear plant Temelín is reutilized in the hydroelectric power plant Kořensko, where 2,109 MWh were produced in 2022. Despite the measures taken to reduce consumption, water consumption increased by 6.11% year-on-year. The higher consumption of surface water was caused by an increase in condensing operation of sources to ensure electricity supply in times of its shortage caused by the European market situation.

  • Hazardous Substances

    We have control systems to detect leaks of hazardous substances at our sites, which are regularly inspected. In case of potential accidents, emergency plans are set up, and sites are equipped with the means to deal with the accidents. Monitoring of the possible presence of hazardous substances in the groundwater and rock environment of the production sites is carried out. In addition, EMS checks compliance with regulations to prevent environmental pollution.

  • Significant Spills

    For all production sites, we have a protocol declaring that the limits of hazardous chemicals specified in the Act on the Prevention of Major Accidents (Act No. 224/2015 Coll.) have not been exceeded. In 2022, we recorded 14 releases of hazardous substances. In the Kamýk hydroelectric power plant, a technical fault caused a leak of approximately 1,200 liters of biodegradable hydraulic oil. The impact on the water quality and biota in the Vltava River was minimized by a timely intervention of the operating personnel, fire brigade, and remediation specialists. Most of the oil was captured in the interior of the power plant, with approximately 30 liters entering the watercourse. No mortality of fish or other aquatic animals was recorded at the site or downstream from the power plant. In ČEZ Distribuce, 227 liters spilled into the soil during 13 events. The most frequent leakage was the insulating oil from distribution transformers. In two cases, the primary cause of the incident was a tree falling into a power line, knocking down a distribution transformer to the ground and spilling oil. In one case, the event was caused by a vehicle striking a support pole. During the liquidation of the leaks, the initial intervention was carried out by ČEZ Distribuce employees, in some cases also in cooperation with the Czech Fire Rescue Service. Subsequent remediation work was immediately provided by a remediation company.