The government of Poland plans to invest $40bn in building six nuclear reactors over the next 20 years. It currently has none.
The announcement was made on Tuesday 8 September by MichaÅ‚ Kurtyka, the country’s climate minister (pictured).
Poland wants to cut its dependence on coal, which currently fuels about 75% of its electricity generation, and generate half its electricity from zero-emission sources by 2040.Â
The reactors are intended to provide a baseload supply, and to cover the nine or 10 days in the year when there is not enough wind or solar energy to meet demand.Â
Work on the first reactor will begin in 2026 with the aim of it entering service in 2033.Â
Altogether, the new units will generate about 9GW by 2040, according to the plan.
Speaking at a meeting of the World Nuclear Association, Kurtyka said: "The transition will cover many sectors, but it is energy that plays a particularly important role in the fight against climate change.Â
"Poland’s energy policy for 2040 takes this into account in its assumptions, on an equal footing with the need to ensure energy security, a just transition, reconstruction after the coronavirus pandemic, a stable labour market, sustainable development of the economy and strengthening its competitiveness."
Kurtyka said a brand new Polish nuclear industry would create around 60,000 jobs.Â
At present, Poland has no nuclear reactors. In the 1980s, construction of a plant began at Zarnowiec, a town on the Baltic coast, but was abandoned in 1990. Nuclear energy has since been a controversial topic in Poland.
The goal of completing a nuclear power plant in Pomerania by 2033 was first mentioned in May last year by energy minister Krzysztof TchÃ³rzewski (see further reading). He said the work would be carried out by PGE EJ1, a specially created subsidiary of state-owned energy group Polska Grupa Energetyczna.
TchÃ³rzewski said at the time: "Locations in the northwestern coastal region of Poland have been chosen. The communities living there have been preparing themselves for the construction, they visited nuclear power plants abroad, thus, in a manner of speaking, we have received social consent to start building."
Nuclear generation around the world reached a near-record high in 2019, with output reaching 2,657TWh, enough to meet more than 10% of the world’s electricity demand, according to the World Nuclear Association’s Performance Report 2020, which was published in August.
Image: Climate minister MichaÅ‚ Kurtyka (Government of Poland)