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Poland Plans for $60B Nuclear Project

Friday, November 22, 2019

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Poland, which has historically largely been reliant on coal, recently made moves to seek a foreign investor, which would hold a 49% stake in the company that would be spearheading construction of six nuclear reactors. Currently, talks are being conducted regarding securing $60 billion in financing.

According to Bloomberg, government official Piotr Naimski, who focuses on strategic energy infrastructure, expects financing to be agreed upon next year, with the first reactor slated for completion in 2033.

Project Background

According to Forbes, this is not the country’s first venture into nuclear: The Zarnowiec power plant, slated for completion in 1990, did not pan out, due to a confluence of the Chernobyl disaster, Poland’s economic troubles and a period of political change. The recent resurgence in interest in nuclear is both more environmentally friendly and provides better security through diversifying energy offerings.

Currently, roughly three quarters of Poland’s energy consumption comes from coal, though in 2018, the country’s coal output was only 63.4 milion tons of coal, a third of what was produced in 1989. Despite these numbers, the country has not yet completed committed to phasing out the use of coal. Forbes also reports that there are three primary perks for Poland if it decides to go the route of nuclear energy, namely: energy security, environmental benefits and a boost to an alliance with the U.S.

Since the government is heavily involved in this endeavor, there remains the question of geopolitical implications. Korean investors, for example, have an established history of successful nuclear projects, but lack the geopolitical clout that could be acquired by striking a deal with France or the U.S. (The 123 Agreement allows U.S. companies to transfer nuclear technology.) As it stands, the U.S. seems to be the most intertwined with Poland’s energy plans, which includes a non-binding agreement on civil nuclear cooperation.

In November 2018, Reuters reported that Poland’s ministry, in a first draft energy strategy to 2040, wanted its first reactor have a capacity of 1-1.5 gigawatt. By 2043, the country hopes to implement 6-9 GW of nuclear power, which will comprise roughly 10% of power needed.

Recent Developments

Most recently, according to Bloomberg, the cabinet seems to be increasing the speed of negotiations after a mid-October election that had the ruling party retaining its majority holding.

The majority holding will be held by state-controlled companies. Additionally, investors would be financially bound for the entire lifespan of the power plant.

Currently, one of the points of concern, previously failed plans aside, is that the amount that needs to go into the project may be a burden for PGE SA, Poland’s largest power utility.


Tagged categories: EU; Europe; Government; Infrastructure; Nuclear Power Plants; Program/Project Management; Project Management

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (11/22/2019, 7:53 AM)

Note that every recent Western nuclear plant construction project has been massively over budget and behind schedule: USA, UK, France, Finland.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (11/22/2019, 11:36 AM)

I'd be interested in hearing which design and fuel they are looking at...hopefully something of a more modern design with some good fail-safes, or possibly even a new, modular design using a molten salt or thorium fuel cycle reactor.

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