On 9 October 2020, the Council of Ministers adopted the government’s long-term Polish Nuclear Power Programme. Its main objective is to build and commission nuclear power plants in Poland with a total installed capacity of approximately 6 to 9 GWe based on Generation III (+) water pressure nuclear reactors. The Programme provides for the use of pressurised water-type reactors with a unit capacity of over 1,000 MWe.
The Polish Nuclear Power Programme assumes that in the period from 2030 to 2040, the first nuclear units operating on the basis of the load on the national power system will be commissioned. The share of nuclear power in the energy mix of 2045 is predicted to be about 20%, while the share of nuclear power in the system load base is expected to be even higher.
Pillars of the Polish Nuclear Programme
The implementation of nuclear energy in Poland will be based on three pillars: energy security, climate and environment, and economy. Consequently, the introduction of nuclear power plants in Poland will mean:
- strengthening Polish energy security, mainly through diversification of the fuel base in the Polish power industry, directions of energy carriers supply and replacement of the aging park of high-emission coal units;
- a radical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere from the power sector, as well as low environmental external costs;
- stopping or reducing energy cost increases for both individual and business customers.
Investment and financial model
The Polish Nuclear Power Programme provides the investment model for the implementation of nuclear energy in Poland. Its main assumptions are:
- one common reactor technology is selected for all nuclear power plants and a nuclear energy project is implemented which uses this technology,
- one strategic co-investor is selected, associated with the technology provider,
- the State Treasury acquires 100% of the shares in a special purpose vehicle (SPV) implementing investments in nuclear energy in Poland,
- the State Treasury retains at least 51% of the shares in the SPV after one strategic co-investor related to the technology supplier has been selected.
However, the Programme does not indicate which financial model might be used in Poland from among the models met on the market (long-term contracts (PPA), contract for difference (CfD), tariff model (RAB), cooperative models). The Programme also does not indicate any other innovative proposal for modelling the Polish Nuclear Programme.
Locations of nuclear power plants
The first nuclear power plant is expected to be constructed at seaside locations given, amongst other considerations, the progress of existing works. The recommended locations of nuclear power plants correspond to the locations specified in the 2014 Polish Nuclear Power Programme and include:
- seaside locations, such as Lubiatowo-Kopalino and Żarnowiec in Pomerania Voivodeship,
- locations currently used by system power plants, such as Bełchatów and Pątnów in Lodz Voivodeship;
- other potential locations, such as Chełmno, Choczewo Chotcza, Dębogóra, Gościeradów, Karolewo, Kopań, Kozienice, Krzymów, Krzywec, Lisowo, Małkinia, Nieszawa, Nowe Miasto, Pniewo, Pniewo-Krajnik, Połaniec, Stepnica-1, Stepnica-2, Tczew, Warta-Klempicz, Wiechowo, Wyszków.
Key tasks of government administration
The Polish Nuclear Power Programme also sets out the governmental actions that must be taken to properly implement the investment in nuclear energy in Poland. These actions have been divided into 5 main tasks:
- human resources development,
- infrastructure development,
- support of national industry,
- strengthening the nuclear surveillance system,
- communication and social information.
The activities within the human resources development concern the preparation of qualified personnel for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants and to carry out nuclear supervision tasks.
With regard to the infrastructure development, the planned works cover the adaption, construction or reconstruction of the existing transmission, transport and other infrastructure necessary to build and operate the nuclear power plants in Poland. Therefore, it is expected that the infrastructure elements needed to construct and operate a nuclear power plant will include:
- transport infrastructure investments in road, rail, sea (including ports) and air transport;
- infrastructure investments in the water supply network, sewage system, telecommunication and teletechnical networks, accommodation and residential facilities, and power supply of the construction site with a 110 kV line;
- investments ensuring connection of the nuclear power plants to the national power system and guaranteeing the safe introduction of power into the country.
Additionally, the support of national industry in preparing to participate in the construction and operation of nuclear power plants will be regulated in detail in the Programme of support for national industry to cooperate with nuclear energy. However, it has been announced that government administration activities are to be focused on:
- support for national companies in obtaining and implementing quality certification,
- information and training activities concerning the functioning of codes, norms and standards applicable in this industry;
- promotion and support of national companies on the international arena in order to win foreign orders;
- improvement of nuclear technology transfer to domestic enterprises;
- support for cluster or other initiatives to bring together interested companies.
A key element of the Polish Nuclear Power Programme is to strengthen the nuclear surveillance system. To this end, the President of the National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA), as an independent regulatory body, will be required to ensure that the use of ionising radiation and nuclear power does not endanger the health and life of the population or pose a threat to the environment. In this respect, he will supervise and enforce compliance with safety requirements and standards for nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities.
The Polish Nuclear Power Programme also provides for the support of the President of the National Atomic Energy Agency with specialised employees in the required areas. Therefore, the National Atomic Energy Agency will be responsible for assessing safety compliance and issuing appropriate permits and opinions. Consequently, the President and the National Atomic Energy Agency’s employees will be ultimately responsible for the proper supervision and rationing of activities related to the construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of the nuclear installation.
The National Atomic Energy Agency will also be responsible for the purchase of appropriate equipment and software to perform security analyses and evaluations of documentation submitted by the investor. Moreover, this will be extended to include the country's radiation monitoring system together with programmes supporting decision-making in crisis situations.
Finally, an important assumption is also communication and social information. According to the Polish Nuclear Power Programme, society will be provided with up-to-date, objective and reliable knowledge in the field of energy and nuclear power, based on solid science. Therefore, the main information tasks and educational states will involve, amongst others:
- increasing citizens' awareness of energy and nuclear power, with an indication of the overall range of related issues, and
- a transfer of knowledge about operating principles and safety of power plants and other nuclear facilities, as well as the rules and safety of conduct with radioactive waste.
It is emphasised that nuclear safety is a priority at all stages of the Polish Nuclear Power Programme implementation. The importance of this issue is high and it has been decided to regulate nuclear safety issues in a separate strategic document, i.e. Strategy and Policy for the Development of Nuclear Safety and Radiological Protection, which will be adopted by the Council of Ministers at the request of the minister responsible for climate protection. In addition, radioactive waste and spent fuel management issues will be regulated in the National Plan for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management.
Nuclear power plant construction schedule
According to the Polish Nuclear Power Programme, the planned schedule of nuclear power plants construction is as follows:
Nuclear power plant 1 (EJ1):
- 2021 – choice of technology for nuclear power plants;
- 2022 – an environmental and location decision is obtained;
- 2026 – a building permit is obtained and construction commenced;
- 2033-2037 – an operating permit is issued by the President of the National Atomic Energy Agency and three nuclear power plant units are commissioned (EJ1).
Nuclear power plant 2 (EJ2):
- 2021 – choice of technology for nuclear power plants;
- 2028 – an environmental and location decision is obtained;
- 2032 – a building permit is obtained and construction is commenced;
- 2038-2043 – an operating permit issued by the President of the National Atomic Energy Agency and three nuclear power plant units are commissioned (EJ2).