Poland tar­gets switch­ing on to nu­clear power in bid to cut reliance on coal

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Kon­rad Kra­suski and Ma­ciej Martewicz

POLAND has in­di­cated it wants to get more of its en­ergy from nu­clear re­ac­tors in an ef­fort to draw in more than €88bn of in­vest­ment to wean the coal-de­pen­dent na­tion off the most pol­lut­ing fos­sil fuel.

The En­ergy Min­istry wants the coun­try to build 6 to 9 gi­gawatts of nu­clear power gen­er­a­tion by 2043 with the first 1- to-1.5 gi­gawatt unit to be com­pleted in 2033, it said in an en­ergy pol­icy draft on Fri­day. To­tal cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­tures for new mix are seen at 400 bil­lion zloty (€93bn) by 2040. “Nu­clear en­ergy is cer­tainly a chal­lenge,” En­ergy Min­is­ter Krzysztof Tchorzewski told a news con­fer­ence in War­saw.

“We’re the only coun­try in the re­gion that doesn’t have a nu­clear plant. It will pro­vide clean power for ev­ery Pole.” The re­marks in­di­cate the gov­ern­ment is mak­ing se­cu­rity of en­ergy sup­ply a pri­or­ity over cost and pres­sures to re­duce its green­house gas pol­lu­tion. Poland his­tor­i­cally has em­pha­sised en­ergy se­cu­rity as an es­sen­tial part of its sovereignty, fear­ing that Rus­sia could use its dom­i­nant po­si­tion as sup­plier for po­lit­i­cal ends, as has been the case with Ukraine. Poland sits atop Eu­rope’s largest coal re­serve and re­lies on that fuel for the vast ma­jor­ity of its elec­tric­ity.

Ear­lier this week, Poland awarded con­tracts for re­new­able en­ergy ca­pac­ity with elec­tric­ity prices of 196 zloty a megawatt-hour, well be­low the at least €105 re­quired by atomic plants, ac­cord­ing to re­search from Bloomberg In­tel­li­gence.

While big Euro­pean util­i­ties in­clud­ing PGE, EON, EDP Ren­o­vaveis won ca­pac­ity in that auc­tion, smaller de­vel­op­ers such as Polen­er­gia lost out. The min­istry has been strug­gling to reach a com­pro­mise within the gov­ern­ment to chart a path to­wards a smooth coal phase­out amid strict EU car­bon emis­sion re­duc­tion tar­gets.

The pro­posed strat­egy didn’t give any de­tails about the nu­clear plants’ fund­ing or com­pa­nies that will be re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion. Un­til now, state-con­trolled PGE has been in charge of the project — in limbo for al­most a decade. The doc­u­ment en­vis­ages that burn­ing ther­mal coal and lig­nite would ac­count for 60pc of power pro­duc­tion by 2030, down from about 80pc now. The share of coal will de­cline fur­ther by 2040 – to around 35pc. Re­new­ables are set to ac­count for 27pc of elec­tric­ity us­age in 2030. The doc­u­ment, which re­quires ap­proval by the en­tire gov­ern­ment, is re­leased just a week be­fore a United Na­tions cli­mate sum­mit starts in Poland. Bloomberg

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