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The Czech government said Wednesday it plans to build up to four nuclear reactors instead of one as the country tries to become more energy independent and wean itself off fossil fuels.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the decision to seek more reactors could reduce the price per reactor by up to 25%. The timing and locations are not yet decided.
Three companies including U.S. firm Westinghouse, France’s EDF and Korea’s KHNP originally submitted bids to build one reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power station. It should become operational by 2036.
As part of their bids, the companies had also submitted unbinding offers to build three more nuclear reactors.
In a surprise move, the government announced that Westinghouse’s bid didn’t meet the conditions of the tender, and only EDF and KHNP have been asked to submit new, expanded bids in April.
Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Sikela said an assessment of the bids should be completed by the end of May.
The Czech Republic already relies on six nuclear reactors to generate more than a third of its electricity. Besides four in Dukovany, state-controlled power company CEZ operates two 1,000-megawatt reactors at the Temelin plant.
Unlike its western neighbors Austria and Germany, the Czech Republic is doubling down on nuclear power and renewable energy sources after deciding to phase out coal for energy generation by 2033 to reduce carbon emissions.
Fiala said nuclear energy “is key for ensuring enough electricity at reasonable prices.”
Another two European Union countries in Central Europe, Slovakia and Hungary, have been working to expand nuclear power production. Another neighbor, Poland, has selected Westinghouse to build its first nuclear power plant as part of an effort to burn less coal and gain greater energy independence.