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Poland's nuclear power programme gets green light

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 29.01.2014 12:38
The ruling coalition has approved a plan to have two nuclear power plants in operation by 2035.


According to a schedule green-lit by the cabinet on Tuesday, the location will be finalised by 2016, and the first plant should be operational by 2024.

Costs for the investment are estimated at about 50 million zloty (11.8 billion euro), with the project led by state-owned power company PGE.

The construction will be supported financially by three other public companies: copper giant KGHM, and energy firms Tauron and Enea Group (the state only has a 52 percent stake in the latter).

Each unit will have a capacity of 3000 MW.

The settling of the location will take place after the next general election, which must be held in 2015 at the latest.

Considerable opposition has been voiced concerning the three possible locations that were still in the running in 2013. All three are in northern Poland, near the Baltic Sea, at Zarnowiec, Gaski amd Choczewo.

Another location had also been considered at Mielno, but locals voted overwhelmingly against the idea in a referendum, with 94 percent of those who voted opposing the plan.

The 2012 vote prompted then Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budznanowski to concede that the government “should respect” the inhabitants wishes.

Meanwhile, PGE is leading an ongoing campaign to convince locals at other potential sites that the investment will have positive effects.

Energy mix

Like all EU nations, Poland has been under pressure to find a so-called 'energy mix' which will satisfy increasing demand but which will also fall in line with stringent cuts demanded by Brussels to carbon emissions.

Energy prices have soared in Poland, with the hike partially caused by high subsidies having to be paid out to develop the so-called 'renewable sector', including wind and solar power.

Poland signed up to the pledge to bring renewables up to 20 percent of its energy mix by 2020, though now the EC has indicated that in the period, 2021 to 2030, national governments will be allowed to decide how achieve cuts in carbon emissions.

The new German coalition government announced last week that it intends to cut subsidies to the renewable sector by up to 30 percent, though green groups have protested against the plan.

But unlike in Germany - where Chancellor Merkel announced a halt to its nuclear programme in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster - nuclear power, a low carbon emitter, will now be a central part of Poland's planned energy mix, as will be the equally controversial shale gas, though the exploration of the new energy source has hit problems of late, with red tape and uncertainly over how much gas is waiting to be tapped causing some foreign investors to pull out of test drilling in Poland. (nh/pg)

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