Trebic, 4.5.2023 - The construction of new units at the Dukovany nuclear power plant will be a huge boost not only for the national economy, but also for the region surrounding the plant. It will bring tens of billions of crowns of business to local companies, create thousands of jobs and a wide range of opportunities for education. At the same time it’s imperative that the money invested in the project does not simply 'flow' through the region without creating lasting value. This was agreed by the participants of the conference "New units of the Dukovany NPP - opportunities and challenges for the Trebic region", which was organised in Trebic by the French company EDF, the bidder for the contract to build new nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic.
As a company with extensive experience in the construction of nuclear power plants in Europe, EDF is fully aware that the Trebic region will have to cope with a number of major changes. In line with this, the company duly presented the first partial results of a socio-economic study aimed at mapping these challenges with a view to ensuring their best possible management.
The first data collected among several dozen industrial companies from the Trebic region show that companies have high expectations from the project: 87% believe that the construction will positively affect their sales, while 96% expect to be directly involved in the construction process. At the same time, however, 70% are concerned about a reduction in the availability of labour in the region, and some mention a possible outflow of employees, coupled higher wage demands overall.
140 billion for the region
EDF representatives shared an update on the construction of two new EPR reactors at the UK's Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. (For Dukovany, EDF is offering the EPR1200 reactor, which is a medium-sized equivalent of the EPR.) The project at Hinkley Point C is now about halfway through and has already demonstrated its outstanding contribution to the South West of England region.
Every £1 invested in the Hinkley project generates an additional £2.5 of economic value for the region. The volume of contracts awarded to companies in the South West of England has so far totalled £5.3 billion, equivalent to more than £140 billion. Business associated with the new nuclear power station has already been won by 1,343 local firms. And £14.5 million has been distributed to local projects under the community fund here.
"For the Czech Republic, Hinkley Point C is an interesting reference - the UK is in a similar situation to the Czech Republic, having had to revitalise its nuclear industry after years of low activity and loss of professional capacity. Thanks also to EDF's substantial investment, this has been successful and construction at Hinkley Point is now running at full speed," said Roman Zdebor, head of EDF's Czech branch. EDF has invested £24 million in training and job creation here alone.
Education as an investment
For this project, EDF is relying mainly on British companies, which have won 64% of the contract so far. In total, 3,700 UK firms are part of the supply chain. Construction has so far created 19,250 new jobs and involved 22,000 people.
A skilled workforce is essential for success. Hinkley Point currently offers over 300 different courses and retraining opportunities. So far, they have trained 1,131 apprentices. And they plan to create a total of 30,000 training opportunities by the time construction is completed in 2028.
"Education is one of the areas where there is a clear return on investment in the long term," said Ales Rod, research director at the Centre for Market and Economic Analysis. "The construction of new nuclear power plants needs to be set up in such a way that the invested funds create lasting value and not just flow through the region. Then there is a risk that positive effects will only arise at the macroeconomic level, while the region will absorb direct and indirect negative shocks."