Nuclear power in Poland

Poland has substantial energy reserves, mostly coal and in 2008 imported 27% of TPES. The government decided in 2005 to diversify energy resources and to reduce carbon and sulphur emissions by introducing nuclear power, with the first plant coming on-line soon after 2020. 11.5 GW of nuclear capacity was initially proposed but may be too expensive in the medium term, so the figure of 4.5 GW by 2030 is now targeted.

The country’s first nuclear power plant is expected to be located in Zarnoweic of the three proposed sites (Zarnowiec, Kopan and Lubiatowo/Klempicz). A decision on this plant will not be made before 2013.
In November 2010 the country became a member of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). This should be followed by a policy and legal framework for a nuclear power programme by 2011. Poland is also a member of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).

The first two commissioned nuclear reactors in the country are expected to have a 3,000 MW capacity each to be built at two sites, planned by the state utility PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE). Completion of the first reactor is expected after 2020. Potential candidates for the reactor include two GE Hitachi designs: a 1,350 MW ABWR (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor) and 1,520 MW ESBWR (Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactors).

If the plants are Generation III, costs are estimated to be in the region of EUR 2,500 to EUR 3,000 per kW. Initial plans are for PGE to hold a 59% stake in the plants, and foreign investors could hold a 49% stake.

Poland has had involvement in nuclear power industry in the past. Four 440 MW Russian units were under construction in the 1980s at Zarnowiec but these were cancelled in 1990. With Lithuania’s invitation, in February 2007 the three Baltic States and Poland agreed to build a new 3.2 GW nuclear plant at Ignalina. Lithuania as host will have 34% of the project and Poland, Latvia and Estonia 22% each. It will be initially operational by 2015. Potentially coinciding with the commissioning of a 1,000 MW interconnection between Poland and Lithuania.

The public has endorsed the decision, with a public opinion poll in December 2006 showing that 60% of the public supported construction of nuclear power plants to reduce the country’s dependence on natural gas and to reduce CO2 emissions.

In 2009 a joint declaration on energy, environment and climate was signed between France and Poland, including collaboration on nuclear power projects, specifically JAEA’s Japan Materials Testing Reactor (JMTR) and Poland’s MARIA reactor.