Poland’s Ministry of Energy on 23 November published its draft Polish Energy Policy until 2040 (PEP2040). The document will be subject to public consultations until 15 January 2019, which may result in some amendments. However, a key principle is a reduction in dependence on coal (by some 50%) in favour of nuclear.

In 2020 Poland is expected to need 165TWh of electricity, of which 128.8TWh ( 78%) will be generated from coal (lignite and bituminous) and none from nuclear plants. By 2035, according to PEP2040, energy demand is forecast to be 215.6TWh, of which 46% would be generated from coal and approximately 10% from nuclear sources. In 2040, energy demand will increase to 231.8TWh, of which 32% will be generated from coal and approximately 18% from nuclear.

Nuclear sites have long been identified, two by the Baltic Sea – Kopalino or Żarnowiec (where nuclear construction began but was abandoned in the 1980s) – or in Central Poland, at Bełchatów (which has the largest lignite-burning power plant in the world, with an output capacity of 5.47GW).

Poland's Ministry of Energy plans to launch the first 1-1.5GWe reactor in 2035 and five more by 2043 for a total nuclear capacity of 6-9GWe. The following schedule is suggested:

•    2018: Develop a financing model
•    2019: Enact legislative changes to enable NPP construction and establish nuclear regulation and technical support
•    2020: Select the final location of the first Kopalino/Żarnowiec reactor
•    2021: Select the technology and the general contractor
•    2024: Begin construction
•    2027: Launch a new landfill site for low-level and medium waste
•    2033: Launch the first reactor followed by five others at two-year intervals.

Poland has been considering nuclear development since 2009 and the Supreme Audit Office report of 2018 put expenditures for this programme at $200 million.

The Polish Electricity Association (PKEE), which represents major power producers, welcomed the PEP2040 but expressed concern about the potential financial burdens. PKEE said the strategy is well suited to meeting EU long-term climate and energy policy goals, but would require “incredibly” high levels of investment from the industry.

PKEE said there is a risk the power industry “will struggle with a lack of money to invest” in new capacity and it hopes the Polish government will help the industry secure financial support in the framework of the negotiations carried out by the Polish government on through the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) and the revamp of the bloc’s emissions trading system.The seven-year MFF regulates the EU’s annual budgets by setting spending caps for a broad list of policy areas, including energy.