Petr Dubinsky

Parliament Moves To Bar Russia, China From Nuclear Project

Russian and Chinese companies will probably not be able to participate in any way in the construction of the new power plant unit in Dukovany. The Chamber of Deputies approved this today with amendments to the Senate, which recommended strengthening security guarantees in the selection of construction contractors. They also proposed to enact the possibility of parliamentary approval of a contract for the purchase of electricity from a nuclear power plant.

Amendments to the so-called low-carbon law, which will now be signed by the president, result from June agreements between the government and the opposition. The Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček (ANO) agreed with the changes. According to him, the law is necessary for the future of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic.

The law envisages that the state will not be able to use the offers of companies from Russia or China to complete the Dukovany power plant. It will only be possible to use technology from suppliers from countries that have acceded to the International Agreement on Government Procurement of 1996 for construction. Russia and China are not among these countries. According to the Senate regulation, technologies not dependent on unauthorized suppliers should not be used not only for the construction but also for the maintenance of the new unit.

The law is also intended to prevent the Ministry of Industry from concluding an agreement on the purchase of electricity if it would endanger security, sovereignty, energy security, long-term stability of energy supplies, significant property values ​​or other important interests of the Czech Republic. According to the senatorial regulation, the ministry would have to, not only could, request the opinions of the ministries of the interior and foreign affairs, all three secret services and the National Office for Cyber ​​and Information Security. If any of these institutions did not agree with the treaty, the government would have to submit it to the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate for approval.

Among other things, the standard is intended to enable the Ministry of Industry and Trade to provide repayable financial assistance for the construction of the Dukovany power plant. The law, nicknamed Lex Dukovany, is also intended to introduce a method of determining the purchase price from the new unit of the Dukovany power plant, which is related to securing project financing. The law proposed by the government envisages that if the purchase price is higher than the price of so-called power electricity on the market, the difference will be paid by all consumers through tariffs. In the second case, where the purchase price will be lower than the market price, the impact on consumers will be the opposite. Power electricity is an unregulated part of the final price of electricity for customers. During the more than four-hour senate debate, there was talk of prices of 50 to 70 euros (up to 1772 CZK) per megawatt-hour.

The environmental organizations of the Rainbow and Calla Movement opposed the law, according to which “the norm unilaterally and powerfully favors uncompetitive nuclear energy over other sources.”

According to the Senate’s recommendation, the government should announce an international tender for the completion of another nuclear unit in the Czech Republic. It should ensure “the most efficient, safe, economically and time-efficient option with regard to the national security of the Czech Republic, which will ensure the highest possible involvement of Czech subcontractors and ultimately a stable and sustainable low energy price for customers and the national economy”. ODS deputy chairman Zbyněk Stanjura called on the government not to hesitate to announce a tender.

In mid-April, the government announced that the Czechia had decided not to invite the Russian company Rosatom to a tender in response to information about the Russian secret service’s participation in explosions at the Vrbětice ammunition complex in the Zlín region. Ministers approved a resolution that the so-called safety questionnaire will be sent only to potential suppliers from France, South Korea and the United States, ie EDF, KHNP and Westinghouse. The Chinese company CGN has already been phased out. According to Havlíček, the price of the contract can only be determined on the basis of offers. There is talk of 162 to 400 billion crowns.