More delays to Polish nuclear plans

30 July 2015

Poland's first nuclear unit will be constructed in 2029, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), the state-run utility running the project, wrote in a letter to power grid operator PSE. This represents a four-year delay compared with the government's construction plan. The delay results from PGE's decision late last year to take on site research itself and cancel a PLN250m ($65.87m) consultancy contract with Australia's WorleyParsons on the grounds that it was taking too long to look into available sites.

The project, expected to cost between $10-15bn, was first proposed in 2009 as an alternative to coal-fired power. Since then it has been delayed by falling power prices and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident. The official deadlines now see the first unit operating by 2025, delayed from the original plan of 2020, and to complete the plant by 2035. However, a Supreme Audit Office report in April there was a high risk of further delays or that the plant may not be built at all.

PGE EJ1 recently rejected a report by Greenpeace that there would be a seven-year delay to the project. Citing a "secret" internal document, the Greenpeace Polish branch said on 23 July that the first reactor would not now be built before 2031. PGE EJ1 responded in a statement that the project schedule is currently being reviewed and updated. "The dates presented in the document and in a Greenpeace press release, including the date of the launch of the first unit cannot be regarded as binding," PGE EJ1 said. "The document, prepared a few months ago by an adviser, was never approved by the corporate bodies of the company." PGE EJ1 said it would announce the "current schedule of investments in the project in the coming days."

Polish national energy plans envisage two 3000MWe nuclear plants, possibly sited at Choczewo, Gaski or Zarnowiec. A timeline issued in early 2014 by the Polish government foresaw selection of the site and reactor technology for the first NPP by the end of 2016. However, Joanna Mackowiak-Pandera, head of Polish think tank, Forum for Energy Analysis (FAE), says 2029 is more realistic, noting that realistic time span is 12-15 years after the decision on investment, which has not yet been made. Under the government plan, all the necessary construction approvals are to be in place by the end of 2018. Unit 1 would start up by the end of 2024 and unit 2 by the end of 2030. The second NPP is scheduled for operation around 2035.



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