2018 Nuclear Days: Let’s buy an NPP project

1. 10. 2019

The 2018 edition of Nuclear Days, a traditional exhibition of nuclear technology, opened on April 19 in Pilsen at the University of West Bohemia. The opening ceremony included a workshop on the future of nuclear engineering and technical education in the Czech Republic.

Jan Zdebor, Vice-Dean for Industrial Cooperation at UWB’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, opening the 2018 Nuclear Days. (Photo Vladislav Větrovec)

The Nuclear Days exhibition focuses especially on students and includes a series of lectures. This year, apart from lectures for high schools, it also includes expert workshops for university students. Jan Zdebor, Vice-Dean for Industrial Cooperation at UWB’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, stated at the opening that Nuclear Days aims to draw attention to nuclear engineering. The Slovak company JAVYS, which joined the traditional exhibitors this year, provided several exhibits and prepared a lecture for the students on the topic of the end of the life-cycle of nuclear devices.

One of the leading speakers at the opening workshop was Ján Štuller, Government Commissioner for Nuclear Energy. He reminded participants that the State Energy Concept counts on the operation of the existing units at the Dukovany NPP at least until 2035-2038, i.e., for a total of 50 years. The operation approval issued by the State Office for Nuclear Safety requires that specific requirements are met which are monitored during regular in-depth inspections. Therefore, the true lifetime depends on proper operation, good maintenance, and high quality of modification and replacement of the NPP’s equipment and systems. Štuller believes that an outlook of at least 50 years of service is clear from the technical point of view.

Electricity Consumption in the Czech Republic

Ján Štuller, Government Commissioner for Nuclear Energy. (Photo by Vladislav Větrovec)

Using data from the Energy Regulatory Office, Štuller presented the development of electric energy consumption in the Czech Republic. The data indicates that consumption slightly increased between 2011 and 2017 (from 58.6 to 61.9 GWh; with a minor reduction in 2013 and 2014, but the general trend is growing), while exports dropped (from 17 to 13 GWh in the same period). Exports have grown compared to 2016 (from 10 to 13 GWh) but there is a general downward trend.

He also stated that the Standing Committee on Nuclear Energy will be looking into the analysis of the investment model on May 17. In result, a recommended variant will be presented to the government, who could discuss the matter in June, if no problems arise. The decision of the government will subsequently direct all further performance of the National action plan for the development of nuclear energy. At the same time, negotiations are being held with Austria and Germany within the cross-border EIA process. The negotiations are currently being held by experts and Petr Závodský, Director of NPP Construction at ČEZ, added that a public meeting with the affected countries is in preparation for June. A public hearing is planned in Dukovany also in June.

Examples of Good Practice

Vladimír Poklop, Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Director of ŠKODA JS. (Photo by Vladislav Větrovec)

The discussion on the erection of new NPP units in the Czech Republic often features the names Mochovce, Olkiluoto and V.C. Summer; however, usually for no specific reasons. Štuller, who has visited construction sites of NPP units in Europe and the USA in search of information on how to avoid their problems, said that some of the problems cannot possibly exist in the Czech Republic. He quoted the example of V.C. Summer in South Carolina. The legislation of the United States allows approval to be issued for a more general design; it does not require a Detail Design as the Czech Republic does. The construction of V.C. Summer commenced under an incomplete design and its completion required a major unexpected increase in costs. Such practice is not permitted by the legislation of the Czech Republic: when a building permit is issued, the design must be ready for realization.

Vladimír Poklop, Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Director of ŠKODA JS, looked at the examples of successful large investment projects. Instead of projects such as Olkiluoto, Flamanville and V.C. Summer, our discussion should focus on Prunéřov II, Ledvice, Počerady CCGT plant and Tušimice II. They are large investment projects which illustrate the process of construction of new units in the Czech Republic better than NPPs abroad. In this case, this was not an adaptation of the basic design for the Czech Republic, instead ČEZ prepared the designs in full. Construction was financed by ČEZ; the EPC contractor was Škoda Praha Invest, who coordinated the supply chain. This is a major difference from previous constructions of NPP units in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where ČEZ coordinated the 3 major contractors. It is also different from the construction of Units 3 and 4 at Mochovce NPP, where the boundary between the investor and EPC contractor has disappeared and supplies are divided into several packages without a single umbrella organization. The example from North Bohemia shows that ČEZ is capable of mobilizing, preparing its own project and building 4 large power plants in several years.

Let’s Buy a Project!

All of the above serves as inspiration for the construction of new NPP units. Poklop also suggests that a possible route lies in the purchase of a part of the project from a technology supplier and in implementation using one’s own production resources. This would reduce the risk for the EPC contractor and thus also reduce the cost of the entire project. An important factor in the decision-making process, Poklop suggested, is whether the design has been licensed in Europe, which might reduce by several years the issuance of a building permit.

František Hezoučký from UWB participated in the start-up of all NPPs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. (Photo by Vladislav Větrovec)

The topic was further analyzed by František Hezoučký, who works at UWB and participated in the start-up of all NPPs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The State Energy Concept requires that Czech industry participate to the highest possible degree. Hezoučký stated that the criteria for selecting the technology supplier ought to be listed in the following order: safety, the amount of work for Czech industry, transfer of know-how, with price being the fourth criterion. The engagement of Czech companies and the transfer of know-how are critical if the project is to be significantly beneficial for our country. From the viewpoint of Czech industry, it is more efficient and less expensive in terms of operating costs to have all maintenance and supply of spare parts done by Czech companies.

Štuller responded by saying that the variant had not been discussed at the Standing Committee on Nuclear Energy. Answers must first be found to the process of supplier selection; thoughts on the scope of purchase (a turn-key delivery, the design and certain components, or a different alternative) will follow.

Engagement of Czech Industry

Hezoučký also requires that constructions in the Czech Republic have synergy effects between the locations, i.e., identical technology at Dukovany NPP 5, 6 and Temelín NPP 3, 4. Once again, this variant will reduce costs as people will be trained in the same maintenance procedures in both locations, and companies will manufacture the same spare parts.

He also prefers the purchase of a design and the integration of a Czech turbine island, a procedure applied in the past. He said that the design, on average, amounts to 7% of the total costs of the construction of an NPP. Hezoučký considers this variant feasible. For example, ZAT can supply all control systems including those which are safety-critical; Sigma Group can supply all pumping equipment; Doosan Škoda Power can deliver the turbines (upgrade from 500 MW turbines to 1100 MW currently installed at Temelín NPP was more complicated than the next step to 1200 MW); Kabex can supply all cables; ZVVZ Milevsko can supply the entire HVAC system; Škoda JS would produce the reactors and their internals (Hezoučký raised the question of the efficiency of small-lot production of reactor pressure vessels and steam generator vessels).

Hezoučký and Zdebor have calculated the maximum level of engagement of Czech companies in the projects registered in the canceled tender for the expansion of Temelín NPP. They assume that the EPR and AP1000 reactors would deliver localization at no more than 42%, the Czech-Russian consortium would engage Czech companies at 75%, while the Czech project would deliver 91% engagement by Czech companies. An important observation can be made at construction sites abroad. Local companies oversee the construction works and supplies of various structures; however, the true added value, according to Hezoučký, lies in the supply of complicated components and in activity management. He suggested that we focus on those activities that could further drive and advance the Czech industry.

By Vladislav Větrovec, Source: Atominfo.cz