Czech utility ČEZ plans to sell its Počerady coal-fired power plant to
Se.ven Energy financier Pavel Tykač when an option comes available at the
end this year and shut down most of its coal resources by 2040.
Vršanská uhelná, part of the Se.ven Energy holding, should start operating the plant as of 2024. The company entered into 50-year contract with ČEZ in 2013 to supply coal to the power plant, which included two options to sell it.
Tykač set up the Se.ven Energy holding company with the aim of investing more than 1 billion euros power plants fired by fossil fuels, even as utilities shift to renewables.
In 2017, Tykač was to offer 10 billion crowns for the Počerady plant, but the supervisory board of state-controlled ČEZ rejected the sale. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO), then minister of finance, also opposed the sale.
The newly established Coal Commission will meet for the first time on
Monday to discuss coal’s future role in the Czech Republic’s energy mix
and address how to manage its reduced production and use.
Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) announced the creation of the Coal Commission this March. The 19-member advisory board is co-chaired by Brabec and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček (ANO). It also includes experts appointed by relevant stakeholders, including industry, labour unions, NGOs and local communities.
Brabec said the main goal is to conduct a structured national debate on the transition from fossil fuels towards renewables and nuclear against the backdrop of combatting climate change.
The Czech Republic is the fifth-biggest polluter in Europe and the 20th in the world in terms of CO2 emissions and the key reason is coal-fired power plants.
Last year, brown coal-fired power plants produced the most electricity in the national energy mix (43 percent), followed by nuclear power plants (a third) and renewable sources (11 percent).
Activists from the Extinction Rebellion environmental group briefly blocked
the entrance to the Ministry for Regional Development on Prague’s Old
Town Square shortly before noon on Friday demanding that the government
reduce emissions from fossil fuels and achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
The Ministry for Regional Development is represented in a government commission which will debate the gradual phasing out of coal mining and the country’s future energy mix. The activists argued that such a decision should be the result of a broad debate and consensus in society.
Several dozen environmental activists engaged in a symbolic blockade of the
coal power plant Chvaletice in north-east Bohemia to protest against an
exemption that will allow it to remain in operation, despite the fact that
it does not comply with all EU environment norms.
The three-day peaceful protest outside the plant’s gates ended on Friday. Protesters did not try to disrupt the plant’s operation allowing workers and traffic free passage. They argue that the plant is a serious polluter in the region and was to have closed in 2016.
The plant’s spokeswoman said on Friday that it was undergoing a modernization worth billions of crowns and already fulfilled 23 out of 25 strict EU requirements.
The exemption of the Czech coal power plant Chvaletice in north-east
Bohemia from EU norms would result in 196 premature deaths over a ten-year
period, suggests a report commissioned by the Czech branch of the
environmental organisation Greenpeace.
Under the new rules approved by EU member states, which will come into force in 2021, power plants in the EU will have to significantly cut the amount of pollutants. The company Sev.en Energy, which operates the Chvaletice power plant, has asked for an eight-year exemption from the norms, arguing that lowering emissions would require inadequate expenses.
Swiss electricity producer Alpiq has agreed to sell its two Czech
coal-fired power stations to Sev.en Energy, owned by investor Pavel Tykač,
the companies announced on Friday.
The Swiss buyer paid 280 million euros for the plants in Kladno, central Bohemia; and Zlín, southern Moravia.
It said the units can use a fuel mix that includes biomass and two flexible gas turbines, in line with EU environmental standards.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has confirmed that the government may put off a decision on how to fund new nuclear reactors for the power utility ČEZ by extending the lifespan of the Dukovany power plant by ten years. The news has brought a cautious response from ČEZ and criticism from the opposition benches.
A number of companies are in the running for lucrative contracts to build new nuclear units in the Czech Republic. Now the head of the State Office for Nuclear Safety says that a South Korean firm looks best placed to get the job. Dana Drábová says KHNP currently has the best references in regards to finishing construction on time and on budget.