Polish cabinet approves new nuclear plan

29 January 2014

The Polish government has adopted a revised program for the construction of the country's first nuclear power plants, which sees two facilities in operation by 2035.

A resolution on the country's nuclear power program, prepared by the Ministry of Economy, was adopted by the Council of Ministers yesterday. The program is a strategic document that describes the scope of the measures to be taken to introduce nuclear energy in Poland. Among other things, it defines the schedule for the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant and the preparation of the regulatory and organization framework for these investments.

The resolution also establishes the roles and responsibilities of the institutions responsible for implementation of the program, as well as issues related to nuclear safety and radiological protection. The program includes the economic justification for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Poland and possible means to finance it, as well as ways of managing the resulting used fuel and radioactive wastes.

The ministry of economy noted that, according to documents produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the introduction of nuclear power requires 10-15 years of preparatory work, including construction of the first plant itself. In the case of Poland, the ministry said, it is necessary to build almost the entire infrastructure required for the development and operation of a nuclear power plant.

According to the schedule, the location and reactor technology for the first nuclear power plant will be selected by the end of 2016. By the end of 2018, all required approvals for the plant's construction should be obtained. The first unit is set to start up by the end of 2024, with the second unit starting up by the end of 2030. Completion of a second nuclear power plant is scheduled for 2035.

The ministry said that construction of a nuclear power plant would not only diversify Poland's energy mix but would "be an impulse for economic, social and regional development." It would also "have a positive impact" on the development of the Polish energy sector and industry. In addition, the construction of scientific and industrial facilities "will develop a new industry" requiring highly-qualified specialists. At present virtually all the country's electricity comes from coal.

Planning for nuclear

The Polish cabinet decided early in 2005 that for energy diversification and to reduce carbon and sulfur emissions the country should move immediately to introduce nuclear power, so that an initial plant might be operating soon after 2020. A resolution by the Council of Ministers then called for the construction of at least two plants in Poland.

In order to deliver the government's objectives, utility Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) announced in January 2009 plans to build two nuclear power plants. In February 2012, PGE's supervisory board approved the construction of two nuclear power plants by 2029 as part of a strategy plan for the period 2012 to 2035. PGE plans to install around 3000 MWe of nuclear capacity, with the first unit coming online by 2025. Three potential sites are under consideration: Choczewo, Gaski and Zarnowiec.

In September 2012, state-owned utilities PGE, Tauron Polska Energia and Enea, together with copper supplier KGHM Polska Miedz, signed a letter of intent to participate in the project by buying shares in PGE EJ1, an entity of PGE set up to build and run the plant. A year later, the companies agreed the shareholdings they will each hold in PGE EJ1. PGE will retain a 70% stake in the company, while Tauron, Enea and KGHM will each hold a 10% stake.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News