PRAGUE, April 30 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic may not need two new nuclear reactors at CEZ's Temelin power plant until 2030, five years later than currently planned, Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
The project to build two new units at Temelin with a capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts is state-controlled CEZ's biggest-ever project and faces uncertainty due to currently low electricity prices.
Czech authorities have planned for the new blocks to be started by 2025 and although some industry experts have expressed doubts about achieving that target, Kuba is the first government official to speak of a later start date.
'The time when we will need Temelin to enter the market is some time around the year 2030,' the website insider.cz quoted Kuba as saying.
'When coal resources are waning, we could at that time become a country with a deficit of energy and import electricity. I consider that economically very risky,' he was quoted as saying.
Westinghouse, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp, has taken the lead over a Russian-led consortium in a tender to expand the power station.
Power prices in Europe have dropped by more than a half since peaks of around 90 euros per megawatt hour before the global financial crisis.
The electricity market has been further distorted by subsidies for wind and solar power.
This has put the expected cost of nuclear power well above the current market power price.
'We still have some time to decide about Temelin... the decision must be economically well set,' Kuba also said.
He did not entirely exclude that the new blocks could be launched in 2025.
'If we get an attractive offer, it is possible to launch (construction of) Temelin according to the original schedule,' he said.
The deal faces a number of challenges. France's Areva is trying to halt the tender to fight its exclusion from the process last year. It has filed multiple appeals against the disqualification.
(Reporting by Jana Mlcochova; editing by Jason Neely) Keywords: TEMELIN/CEZ
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