On October 20, in an open letter to their government, a group of 22 opposition lawmakers and 9 members of the Chamber of Deputies (total 31 government officials) in the Czech Republic called for the exclusion of Chinese and Russian companies from an upcoming tender for construction of a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant (NPP).
This letter appears to build on internal rules reportedly secretly adopted by the Czech government in April 2020 that create security-minded stop gaps in the bid review process, specifically with Chinese and Russian participation in mind.
In their reasoning for the exclusion, lawmakers cited security considerations and corrosive practices employed by Chinese and Russian companies to influence contract decision-making. Czech Senator Marek Hilser told the local press,
“Both Russia and China are known for using their trade connections to exert pressure on the other states. When they are invited to the tender, our government in fact gives these countries a wonderful opportunity to broader their influence activities in our country.”
The Czech Republic’s state-owned nuclear operator CEZ is expected to launch a tender to select the Dukovany NPP project contractor in December 2020. A ranking of bidders is expected by 2022. It is expected that a newly elected government following the 2021 general election will likely be responsible for selecting the winner.
China General Nuclear Power Corporation and Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Corporation are among the international nuclear energy companies that have shown interest in the project. Other interested parties include France’s EDF, South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, and United States’ Westinghouse.
The Dukovany NPP is one of two Czech nuclear power plants (alongside the Temelin NPP) that accounts for approximately 35% of its electricity output. Construction of the proposed fifth reactor is expected to be completed by the selected contractor in 2029, and the unit is expected to become operational by 2036.