Czech PM, minister clash over nuclear project

World

Czech leaders clashed on Friday over the merits of building two new nuclear reactors, underlining growing problems for a plan aimed at boosting energy security that also represents the country’s biggest-ever investment project. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has expressed doubts about the planned expansion of the Temelín nuclear plant. In an interview for the daily Hospodarské noviny, Kalousek said he was not sure whether the investment would be effective due to an uncertain outlook of electricity prices. CEZ AS, the country’s largest power utility, is in the process of choosing a company to build two new units - between 2017 and 2025 - with at least 2,000 megawatts of capacity at Temelin. Westinghouse, a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp, has taken the lead in competition with a consortium led by Russia’s Atomstroyexport in the tender. The bids - which are not final and have not been revealed - from both bidder surprised us very unpleasantly in terms of price, Kalousek told the newspaper. Prime Minister Petr Necas responded by saying that long-term strategic goals outweighed initial costs for the project with an expected price of more than $10 billion. Necas said the Czech economy could not do without nuclear power given the lack of other options and limited coal deposits to fuel the country’s coal-fired plants.

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