The nuclear power industry will continue to be a stable source of electrical energy in the future
Thirty-five years ago, when I was faced with the decision of what to focus on in my studies, my choice was actually very simple. I decided to study nuclear engineering. At the time, it was the most high-tech and attractive field of study in power engineering. My idea of where I was going to work was equally clear – ŠKODA JS (called Power Engineering Works at the time), which built and continues to build primary circuits of nuclear power plants. It was a logical choice for me.
I personally, as well we at ŠKODA JS, have no doubt that nuclear power is in the long term the right direction for the European power industry. We do not want to follow the short-term fads and trends that occasionally arise in power engineering. The power industry is a long-term process and there needs to be a plan for up to decades on what type of power generation is safe for the particular country in terms of fuel availability, strategy as well as operational safety.
We want to take part in construction projects of new nuclear units
The IEA (International Energy Agency) and WNA (World Nuclear Association) analyses suggest that nuclear power will continue to be a stable source of electrical energy in the future, with its share accounting for 10–14% of total power generation (according to different scenarios). More than 50 reactors in 15 countries around the world are currently being built. A number of other countries are planning to build or are considering building new reactor units. One of these countries is the Czech Republic, where after a period of stagnation with respect to this topic, we have drawn closer to planning the construction of another unit. Thanks to our active role in preparing the bid for the completion of the Temelín NPP in 2009–2014, we have detailed knowledge of the new type of VVER 1200 unit, which is a prerequisite for winning engineering projects connected with the construction of this type of power plant around the world. Apart from that, we are prepared to play a significant role in the preparation and construction of a new nuclear source in the Czech Republic.
A major trend in nuclear engineering and a source of additional electricity production capacity in the future is extending the lifetime – modernization of currently operated nuclear units, as well as increasing their nominal power output. The current goal is to achieve a lifetime of sixty years or more of their operation. ŠKODA JS has taken part in several such projects, for example, the unique project of complete modernization of the instrumentation and control management systems at the Dukovany NPP, which we carried out in the years 2000–2018 without any long-term unit outages, only within the planned power plant outages. This project has no precedent anywhere in the world and proves that ŠKODA JS is a strategic partner with a wide portfolio of services, extensive technical expertise and plenty of experience.
Personally, I am convinced that the Czech Republic and Central Europe in general will in the near future count on an energy mix comprised of hydropower, renewable sources, mainly photovoltaics, gas-fired and steam-gas power plants, and nuclear power. In the Czech Republic, nuclear power makes up 32-34% of the electrical energy supply. Nuclear power will continue to be one of the key energy sources in the Czech Republic as well as in Central and Northern Europe.
Nuclear power is the right path for Europe
Our conviction and the given facts orient ŠKODA JS further within the field of nuclear power engineering. At the same time, we are aware of and evaluate new technological solutions and challenges in the power industry; we do not want to blindly follow our vision. However, nothing has convinced us there will be any revolutionary changes in the development of the power market. We are convinced that nuclear power is the right path for Europe and we are prepared to convince the strategists who are responsible for the future of the power industry of our country of this. The future composition of the Czech (and European-wide) energy mix is a matter of political decision-making. Nuclear power – as a zero-emission, “green”, stable, reliable and financially efficient source of electrical energy – certainly has its place in it.
When our colleagues look back on their careers and see the fruits of their work, they see projects that not only transcend them, but projects that will continue to serve for generations to come. They see several units at nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a number of unique projects abroad, innovation and development that has made a contribution to the nuclear power industry and made a difference for our customers. There aren’t many other industries where this applies. Therefore, I consider ŠKODA JS a unique and comprehensive company that can offer very interesting jobs to people who look ahead and are willing to make an effort.
Thirty-five years ago, when I was faced with the decision of what to focus on in my studies, my choice was actually very simple. I decided to study nuclear engineering. At the time, it was the most high-tech and attractive field of study in power engineering.