CEZ asks for impact study for new nuclear units

Saturday, July 12, 2008

PRAGUE, July 11 (Reuters) - Czech power firm CEZ asked the Environment Ministry for an environmental impact study of the potential construction of two extra units at its Temelin nuclear power plant, the company said on Friday.

The central European country's government has pledged not to approve construction of new nuclear power stations before its term ends in 2010, but has said CEZ could go ahead with the assessment.

CEZ, the largest central European company with market capitalisation of $53 billion, has said the study would take about two and a half years.

The assessment must precede any decision on building the plant.

The Czech Republic is one of Europe's few electricity exporters but dwindling coal reserves, rising demand and ageing fleet of power plants are expected to swing the balance in about 2015.

Nuclear energy has been gaining popularity as energy prices soar and European countries try to replace sources emitting carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming, with cleaner energy.

"No other emissions-free source is capable of producing sufficient amount of electricity," CEZ said in a statement.

"We consider nuclear energy to be the best possible solution from the point of view of economics and the ecology."

CEZ operates two 1,000 megawatt units at the Temelin plant in southern Czech Republic, north of borders with Austria, a fiercely anti-nuclear neighbour, and has capacity to add another two same-size units at the site.

It also runs four older units in Dukovany in the southeast.

The vast majority of Czech political parties support building new nuclear plants, but the small Green Party, a coalition ally of the ruling right-wing Civic Democrats, insists the cabinet does not push ahead.

Shares in CEZ showed no reaction to the news, trading 0.7 percent up at 1,330 crowns at 1147 GMT, beating the main Prague PX index which gained 0.4 percent. (Reporting by Jan Lopatka; editing by James Jukwey)

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