Poland may rethink nuclear power

29 January 2017

Poland's Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski told Polish radio station RMF on 25 January that the nuclear power programme had been "suspended and could even be abandoned”. He said the government was instead considering building new coal-fired generating units, which will use indigenous reserves. The official Polish Press Agency later cited Tchórzewski as saying preparations begun by the previous government for a national nuclear programme were ongoing, but that "any type of power unit" may be considered. The Polish government is expected to release a revised energy strategy later this year.

However, an International Energy Agency (IEA) report released the same day said Poland’s government should “move expediently” to determine and announce the timeline, constraints and support mechanisms for the first nuclear reactor units. This would provide long-term certainty for the licensee to proceed with investment decisions, siting characterisation and selection activities, and technology evaluation. The report said Poland should find technically qualified personnel such as nuclear, mechanical and electrical engineers and technicians with nuclear power operation or regulatory experience. The use of nuclear, the IEA noted, would enable Poland to boost its electricity generation capacity from clean energy sources while strengthening its energy security. Currently coal  provides about 80% of its electricity generation. Greenhouse gas emissions per gross domestic product and carbon intensity are among the highest among IEA Europe member countries, the agency said.

The IEA noted that while Poland does not yet have any operating power reactors, it has experience with nuclear energy and technology through its nuclear research facility, which has  an operating research reactor, and several other nuclear research activities. The 30 MWt pool-type reactor is used extensively for medical isotope production and nuclear research.

Poland has made substantial progress since deciding in 2009 to pursue nuclear power, according to the IEA. Its nuclear power programme, which was approved in 2014, foresees two NPPs with 6000MWe of capacity, with the first one to be commissioned in 2022.

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