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Warsaw Considering Coal Site For New Nuclear Power Station

Poland is considering the site of Europe’s largest coal-fired power station as a location for a nuclear plant, part of Warsaw’s ambitious reactor new-build programme, Piotr Naimski, secretary of state for strategic energy infrastructure, told local RMF FM radio.

Mr Naimski said Poland’s first two or three units will be built at one of two locations – Lubiatowo-Kopalino or Zarnowiec – in the northern province of Pomerania near the Baltic coast. He said Belchatow, in central Poland, could be chosen as a further location with a possible third site at another coal-fired station – Patnow-Konin, about 150 km northwwest of Belchatow.

Poland wants to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity based on proven, large-scale, pressurised water nuclear reactors of Generation III and III+ designs. Commercial operation of a first nuclear reactor unit in a proposed set of six is earmarked for 2033.

According to Mr Naimski, the six units will be “most likely” deployed at two or even three sites in Poland, depending on localisation studies, which are under way.

Mr Naimski said using the sites of existing fossil fuel plants like Belchatow is “most rational” because of the existing grid infrastructure, which would allow the transmission of large amounts of electricity.

Asked about the cost of the nuclear programme, Mr Naimski said it is estimated at about €17.5bn over 20 years. He said plans to develop wind power generation are estimated to cost about the same.

Mr Naimski’s comments have confirmed plans laid out in Poland’s energy strategy until 2040 which was approved in February 2021 and the government’s nuclear programme, which was given the green light in October 2020.

Poland’s energy strategy is calling for more than half of the country’s installed power generation capacity to consist of zero-emission sources, such as renewables and nuclear.

According to Mr Naimski, nuclear power could generate up to 25% of Polish electricity in the early 2040s and together with renewables and gas would replace coal-fired generation to meet local and European climate targets.

The move would include the gradual phasing out of Poland’s coal-fired power plant fleet, with the oldest one set to be shut down first already in the early 2030s.

Mr Naimski said estimations have shown that Poland would need to spend between €174bn and €305bn for its energy transition efforts until the mid-2040s, with about €100bn spent in the electricity generation sector.

Answering a question whether Poland could afford investment on such scale, Mr Naimski said: “Yes, Poland will be able to afford it. Will it be easy? No. It will be very, very difficult, but one should also calculate how much it would cost us not to take on this transformation.”

He said the bulk of the funding will come from the domestic budget, which will be supplemented by EU financing.

A government timetable said Poland could sign a general contract for its first nuclear unit in 2022 and issue a construction permit in 2025.

Construction of Unit 1 would begin in 2026. The first of six plants would begin commercial operation in 2033 with the second in 2035, the third in 2037, the fourth in 2039, the fifth in 2041 and the sixth in 2043.

Source: Nucnet