Nuclear power shapes up in Poland

12 August 2009

A roadmap for nuclear energy has been unveiled by Poland, setting out the steps it will take with the aim of generating nuclear power before 2021.


The proposed schedule was announced by the government yesterday as part of a plan to reduce exposure to volatility in imported energy sources. It includes efforts to assess Poland's potential for producing uranium of its own.


By the end of 2010 Polish leaders want to have drafted the legislation required to give a stable framework for nuclear liability as well as power plant construction and operation. At the same time it will develop training programs and establish research facilities and institutions for nuclear energy. These will be under the domain of a forthcoming National Atomic Energy Agency. It is hoped that a consortium to actually build the first nuclear power plant will be formed.


Locations for the power plant are to be identified between 2011 and the end of 2014, with a final decision taken towards the end of the period. The government will also act to assess Poland's uranium resources, which had previously been exploited by the Soviet Union. By this time, the building consortium should have sourced its finance and selected the reactor technology it wants.


State-owned Polska Grupa Energetyczna SA (PGE) has previously said it would like to build two nuclear power plants, each with a capacity of 3000 MWe - two or three large reactors each. One potential site would be the northern town of Zarnowiec, where four Russian VVER-440 pressurized water reactors began construction only to be cancelled in 1990.


Work to build the new plant is envisaged at the start of 2016 with the preceding time taken up by the detailed design of the power plant and the safety, environmental and political approvals. A disposal facility for low-and intermediate-level radioactive waste will be constructed.


The first Polish nuclear power plant is slated to be built between January 2016 and December 2020. This plan is contemporary with one in neighbouring Kaliningrad for 2300 MWe of new nuclear as well as one in Lithuania for a 3400 MWe replacement for Ignalina in which Poland has a stake.