Maciej Wozniak is chief advisor on energy security to the prime minister of Poland. He spoke to EurActiv on the sidelines of a a conference organised by the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Brussels.
Do these nuclear power stations mark the beginning of Poland's shift away from coal as a strategic objective?
It is one of the results, yes. One of the consequences of the EU's energy and climate package is that we have to change our basket of electricity sources, and one of them is nuclear.
We've been standing out of nuclear for many years. We tried to move to nuclear in the 1980s, but then [the Chernobyl nuclear incident] came and so we quit this programme. Now we are going back.
Polish society is really open to this new project, and we are aware that we have a couple of nuclear power plants in neighbouring countries around Poland, so it doesn't make a difference for us if another one is going to be built in Poland or just outside our borders.
And we really need this new plant, because of the increase in electricity prices which is expected in the coming years. And we also need it because of the obligations contained in the EU climate package and the issue that Poland is such a high-carbon economy.
Poland's reliance on coal for electricity production is roughly 95%. What do you expect this level to be after the new nuclear plants are in operation?
It depends on how demand for electricity will look like in the next ten years. However, I believe these two new nuclear power plants will cover, let's say, 20-25% of our electricity demand, looking at current conditions.
How far down the line are you in selecting companies to build the new plants?
The programme is really still in its initial phase. The programme was announced by the Council on 13 January and so we will probably announce next week the part which will be played by the government.
There will be educational programmes for society at large. There will also be a programme for human resources in Poland. We will open departments in our universities for this purpose. The leader in this project, which is PGE, the Polish energy group, will look for the financial and know-how partners. The full programme with the location and partners will be published in June or July.
Do you know what technology is going to be selected? Is it going to the EPR generation of French reactors, for example?
It is not decided yet. We have a very wide spectrum of possibilities and we are assessing them.
How will the project be financed?
It will be financed by credit, own resources and maybe by industrials, for example from the Middle East.
The next big element of the Polish energy security plan will be energy terminals. What timeframe is foreseen for that?
We want to see the terminal receive supplies in the fourth quarter of 2013, maybe the first weeks of 2014.
What countries will be the main suppliers?
Probably Qatar. The negotiations are moving very fast, so in April, it is possible that we will sign the long term contract for supplies.
Are there other options?
Yes. We were also in discussions with Algeria, but Qatar is really the priority.