In order to meet increasing energy demand while meeting climate targets, coal-dependent Poland needs to introduce new sources of energy. This, says the country's energy minister, Kryzstof Tchórzewski, opens the opportunity to introduce emissions-free nuclear energy.

Krzysztof Tchorzewski speaking at World Nuclear Spotlight Poland 2018 (Image: Polish Energy Ministry)

Speaking at the World Nuclear Spotlight Poland conference in Warsaw yesterday, Tchórzewski said that following the country's independence from the Soviet Union, Poland had an independent energy system based on coal. "What we needed to do was meet the demand linked to economic growth," he said. "That was our priority."

After Poland's accession to the European Union in 2004, the country had a lot of investments and upgrades, particularly in the energy sector, Tchórzewski said.  The power sector as a result was able to satisfy the growing demand for energy.

"But then we started thinking about the energy mix and I started the discussions on nuclear energy as the deputy minister of economy in 2007. Since 2015, we have been facing a different dilemma. We are now facing the issue of [EU] climate policy. We need to secure clean air and we are facing a situation where Poland is developing very fast. The economy is growing. We need to satisfy sustainable growth."

The public's perception of lifestyles and health issues has changed.

"We are ready to pay more for having clean air," Tchórzewski said. "Alongside these discussions, we are continuing to talk about the energy mix in Poland. We have already had many discussions with the European Commission. We already had a big internal debate in Poland." However, he stressed that the government has not made any decisions yet on introducing nuclear energy.

The Ministry of Energy, as part of discussions about national energy policy and the plan for energy and climate, decided that Poland should consider having nuclear energy in its energy mix. The energy policy "forces us to cut the share of hard coal in the production of energy".

Tchórzewski said Poland is currently formulating its plans up to 2030.

"We assume that demand for energy will increase by 20%, perhaps even 25%, so we will not be able to just upgrade our [existing] power plants.  We will need to add more sources, and here the space for nuclear energy opens. We will therefore change our energy mix. We also need to cut emissions. We need to add emission-free energy sources."

He added, "We need conventional energy to support renewables, and here zero-emission nuclear energy is the option that guarantees to achieve the goals we set. Nuclear energy is also important for state-of-the-art technology."

Also speaking at the event, Josef Sobolewski, director of the Nuclear Energy Department at the Polish Energy Ministry, noted the country's total generating capacity was 43,421 MWe at the end of 2017, almost half of which was from coal-fired power plants. Poland's electricity consumption stood at 168,139 TWh in 2017.

Sobolewski said Poland's energy projections assume that two nuclear power reactors, with a combined capacity of up to 1.5 GWe, will be in operation by 2031 and that up to four further units will be brought online by 2050 giving a total nuclear generating capacity of between 6 and 9 GWe by then. Two possible sites in northen Poland are under consideration for the first reactors: Lubiatowo-Kopalino and Zarnowiec.

The World Nuclear Spotlight Poland conference was organised jointly by World Nuclear Association and Foratom, the European nuclear trade body.

World Nuclear Association Director General Agneta Rising said it was "milestone" to be holding such an event in Poland. "It is very timely for Poland because of its modernisation and diversification in the power sector, which is ongoing, and also for decarbonisation."

"Every state has to choose its own energy mix, and to take in the specifics of the country: the strategic, economic and environmental situation. Poland is well suited to use nuclear energy. It is, in fact, very timely," she noted.

Calling nuclear energy a "clean, reliable and 24/7 supply at a competitive price", Rising said it improves the economic development of the country and the region where it is located. Nuclear energy also provides jobs and business opportunities, as well enabling progress in the field of innovation, research and development. "Nuclear technologies also help countries to advance and maintain the technology leadership and benefits in other sectors," she said.

"We believe it is greatly beneficial to have this meeting here and now, and for the Polish authorities and experts involved in the Polish nuclear energy programme and also for international nuclear industry professionals and leaders ... to have exchanges today on views on the specific needs of Poland and the global landscape and the opportunities for Poland."

Welcoming the Polish government's strong support for nuclear energy and the country's ambitious plans to advance its nuclear power programme, Foratom Director General Yves Desbazeille said the construction of a nuclear power plant could help Poland meet many strategic objectives as it would provide security of energy supply, decreases dependency on fossil fuel imports, boosts the economy, and help decarbonise the power system in line with the energy and climate targets agreed at EU level.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 21 November 2018
Original article:,-says-energy-minist