Czech parties agree China should not take part in nuclear tender

by Reuters
Wednesday, 27 January 2021 15:43 GMT

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By Robert Muller

PRAGUE, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Czech political parties have agreed Chinese companies should not take part in a planned tender to build a new nuclear power plant, but there has been no agreement on Russian participation, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek told Reuters.

The government is finalising conditions for a tender to build a 1,200 megawatt (MW) unit at the existing Dukovany plant to replace coal-fired plants that are to be phased out under Europe's climate targets along with the eventual decommissioning of some older nuclear units.

The EU and NATO member country's security services have recommended that Russia - expected to be a strong contestant - and China are excluded on national security grounds, a stance that has been adopted by most opposition parties.

"We have come closer on one issue, we nearly all agree that China at this point is not realistic, now the discussion is whether to allow Russia in some form or not," Havlicek said after a meeting of party leaders on Wednesday.

The government does not need a cross-party consensus to kick off the tender, to be run by state-controlled utility CEZ , but Prime Minister Andrej Babis has said he wanted a wide political consensus given the project will not be completed until 2036 or later.

Havlicek as well as President Milos Zeman and business groups have argued that keeping Russia in at least as part of a wider consortium would boost competition in the tender for the plant, whose costs will be in billions of dollars.

Nuclear energy has widespread support in the country unlike in neighbouring Germany which is planning to phase out nuclear as well as coal sources.

Besides Russia's Rosatom and China's CGN Power, South Korea's KHNP, France's EdF and Westinghouse of the United States are seen as potential bidders in the project to build the bloc estimated to be worth at least 6 billion euros ($7.27 billion). (Reporting by Robert Muller Writing by Jan Lopatka Editing by David Goodman and David Evans)

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