Russia and Poland – the nuclear option

On January 28th, 2014 the [Polish] economics ministry presented a detailed 150-page plan paving the way for the construction of two nuclear-power plants. By 2016 the sites of the two plants will be picked. Two areas close to the Baltic coast, Choczewo and Zarnowiec, are on the shortlist. Three years later construction is to begin and, by 2024, the first plant should be producing power. A state-owned energy company, PGE, will manage the project, which will cost an estimated 40 billion-60 billion zloty ($13 billion-19 billion)….

Until now, the exploration of shale gas in northern Poland has moved at a snail’s pace, thanks to a combination of bureaucracy and environmental worries, much to the frustration of foreign investors. The government is trying to change this. On February 5th the environment ministry announced a new shale-gas law intended to cut red tape and regulatory obstacles. To investors’ relief, NOKE, a state operator, will not be part of the licensing process. “I believe this will encourage exploration,” says Kamlesh Parmar, chief executive of 3Legs Resources, an investor.

Krzysztof Kilian, a former boss of PGE, doubts that the government can embark on the production of nuclear power and shale gas at the same time, as both require gargantuan investments. Meanwhile, Russia is building a nuclear-power plant in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave north of Poland. So far Poland and Lithuania have both declined Russian offers to export power to their countries, as both are trying to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, which is overwhelming in Lithuania’s case and considerable in Poland’s. In June last year (2013) the construction of the plant was temporarily suspended.

Polish energy policy: A different Energiewende, Economist, Feb. 8, 2014, at 52

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