Poland to seek EU approval for state aid to build nuclear plant

File photo. Polish President Andrzej Duda (C) visits the control room of the nuclear reactor 'MARIA' with National Centre for Nuclear Research Director of the Nuclear installations Operation director Grzegorz Krzysztoszek (R) during his visit to the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Otwock-Swierk, near Warsaw, Poland, 8 March 2016. [Leszek Szymanski/EPA/EFE]

Poland will ask the European Commission to approve state aid for the construction of a nuclear power station, the minister responsible for energy infrastructure said on Thursday (22 October).

“It is impossible these days to build a nuclear power plan without state support,” Piotr Naimski told a news conference.

Poland generates most of its electricity from burning coal and sees nuclear energy as a way to help it reduce emissions as required by the European Union.

The country wants to build 6-9 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear energy capacity. It plans to build its first nuclear power plant by 2033, but has not yet worked out a financing scheme.

Earlier this week, Poland and the United States struck an agreement under which Warsaw will likely buy $18 billion in nuclear technology from US companies, the US energy department said.

Indeed, at the recent Three Seas summit in Talinn, a 30-year intergovernmental agreement between Washington and Warsaw was signed on future cooperation in the development of the Polish civil nuclear energy program.

Three Seas Initiative inches forward as US ramps up support

The Three Seas Initiative virtual summit held in Estonia on Monday (20 October) saw further consolidation between its 12 members. At the same time, the US has started seeing the project as a vehicle to win the geopolitical battle for ‘hearts and minds’ in the region, in a bid to reduce Chinese and Russian influence there.

Naimski said, however, that financial details for the new plant were not part of the deal and construction costs and funding were still subject to negotiations.

The minister said nuclear energy was needed because renewable sources that Poland plans to develop, including offshore wind farms and solar power, needed a backup of stable supplies.

Poland is the only EU state that has not set a target to be carbon neutral, with the ruling Law and Justice party arguing the country needs more time and money to switch its economy from coal to cleaner energy.

Naimski also said Poland would involve its domestic industry in the building of reactors to lower costs.

Westinghouse: Nuclear energy has a great future in Poland

The biggest single market for nuclear energy in Eastern Europe is Poland, says Mike Kirst, an official at Westinghouse, the US multinational providing fuel, services and equipment for the nuclear industry. Polish authorities have spoken of potentially building up to 11 nuclear reactors by 2030, Kirst told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview.

 

In an effort to decrease its dependence on Russia, Bulgaria too has plans to build a new nuclear reactor at its Kozlodui central with US technology.

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