France and Poland have signed a joint declaration on energy, environment and climate that calls for France to assist Poland in the construction of nuclear power plants.
The declaration was signed in Paris by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Polish prime minister Donald Tusk. The cooperation, a statement said, was aimed at 'increasing the energy security of the European Union (EU) through technological and geographical diversification of its energy mix and increasing energy efficiency to combat climate change.'
|Tusk and Sarkozy seal the deal
Under the declaration, France and Poland have agreed to cooperate in the promotion of the development of nuclear power in Poland, as set out in the country's energy policy up to 2030. The two nations reaffirmed that the introduction of nuclear energy into Poland must be in compliance with the highest standards in safety, security, non-proliferation and preservation of the environment, especially with regards to the management of radioactive waste.
Poland and France agreed to encourage cooperation in training and research and development in the field of nuclear. The two countries noted the satisfactory conclusion of an agreement between France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and a consortium of Polish research institutes. Under that agreement, a training program was recently launched in France for Polish universities. In addition, Agence France Nucléaire International (AFNI) has held discussions with Polish authorities about creating the best system for training personnel for the Polish nuclear energy industry.
France has agreed to provide technical assistance to state-owned utility Polska Grupa Energetyczna SA PGE in bringing a nuclear power plant into operation by 2020, as mandated by the government in its energy policy.
Tusk said France was becoming a key partner for Poland when it comes to the future of nuclear energy.
Poland has the largest reserves of coal in the EU (14 billion tonnes), and some 93% of its electricity is generated by coal-fired plants. Poland's electricity consumption is forecast to grow by 90% to 2025, but the EU has placed stringent restrictions on CO2 emissions. A roadmap for nuclear energy has been unveiled by the Polish government in August, setting out the steps it will take with the aim of generating nuclear power before 2021.
Locations for the power plant are to be identified between 2011 and the end of 2014, with a final decision taken towards the end of the period. PGE has previously said it would like to build two nuclear power plants, each with a capacity of 3000 MWe - two or three large reactors each. One potential site would be the northern town of Zarnowiec, where four Russian VVER-440 pressurized water reactors began construction only to be cancelled in 1990.
The first Polish nuclear power plant is slated to be built between January 2016 and December 2020. This plan is contemporary with one in neighbouring Kaliningrad for 2300 MWe of new nuclear as well as one in Lithuania for a 3400 MWe replacement for Ignalina in which Poland has a stake.