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Poland Plans Nuclear Future, Despite Public Wariness

Poland, currently hosting a global conference on climate change, remains steadfastly wedded to fossil fuels.

Poland is the second largest coal producer in Europe, exceeded only by Germany. In 2012 Poland produced 158 million tons of coal, roughly 20 percent of Europe’s total coal production and consumes almost all of the coal it produces, while exporting small quantities. Poland produces very small quantities of crude oil and natural gas and accordingly is a net oil and natural gas importer. The Russian Federation provides the majority of Poland’s crude oil through the Druzhba pipeline, which has a capacity of 1 million barrels per day, along with Russian natural gas through the Yamal pipeline, with a capacity of 974 billion cubic feet.

Seeking alternatives, Poland has investigated its shale natural gas and oil resources, but reserve estimates have recently been revised downward following unsatisfactory exploration results, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration.

In contrast, the EIA notes in “Country Analysis Brief Overview,” of the Russian Federation’s hydrocarbons, “Russia holds the world's largest natural gas reserves, the second-largest coal reserves, and the ninth-largest crude oil reserves.” In 2011 Russia was the largest producer of crude oil in 2011, averaging about 9.8 mbd. Russia’s natural gas reserves are even more impressive, with the EIA noting, “Russia holds the largest natural gas reserves in the world, and is the largest producer and exporter of dry natural gas.”

Related article: Despite PR Push, Nuclear Still Faces Uphill Battle

It is not that Warsaw has not tried to develop alternatives, but as for shale gas, in May both Canada’s Talisman Energy and U.S. Marathon announced that they were abandoning their Polish operations, with Marathon noting that the company’s decision was based on "unsuccessful attempts to find commercial levels of hydrocarbons."

…which leaves Warsaw considering nuclear power.

Not all Polish media are opposed to nuclear expansion; in an article entitled “Nuclear power will increase our capacity,” Poland’s Puls Biznesu web portal quoted Vladimir Strupi?ski from the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology (ITME) in Warsaw as observing that nuclear power plants are the cheapest source of energy with low CO2 emissions, noting that in Germany in 2012 consumers paid $255 for 1 megawatt hour for electricity from offshore wind farms and $168-229 per 1 MWh were while in France, nuclear energy fee for the same period amounted to $56 per 1 MWh. Strupi?ski added that the latest generation of reactors in the event of failure does not pose a threat to people living within 1.8 miles of a NPP.

Accordingly then, for better or worse, the Polish Ministry of Economy intends to proceed with its Polish Nuclear Power Program (PPEJ) project.

One of the NPPs could be built in Zarnowiec, roughly  50 miles west of Danzig, already housing the ruins of a huge nuclear power plant whose construction was stopped in 1990 through a popular referendum. Not surprisingly, the residents of Zarnowiec remain staunchly anti-nuclear.

But, as a member of the European Union, Poland’s fellow members are weighing in on Warsaw’s nuclear ambitions.

Related article: Nuclear Talks with Iran Intensify as Deal Emerges

Rebecca Harms, president of the Greens in the European Parliament has bluntly spoken out against Poland’s nuclear ambitions, stated, I'm willing to bet that the NPPs will not be built… The Polish nuclear expansion plans are fiction. Apart from the experience of the Poles after the (1986) Chernobyl disaster…there would be protests.”

For Poland then, a tough call.

Build NPPs to satisfy rising electricity demand but alienate EU fellow members, further develop coal thermal-fired plants (and alienate EU fellow members), or focus on renewables, even though major foreign hydraulic fracturing natural gas international investors are leaving?
Short-term solution – import more natural gas from the Russian Federation and add to the government’s import bill.

Anyway you look at it, a tough call.

By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com




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Leave a comment
  • John Chludzinski on November 17 2013 said:
    The Poles would do well to pursue a 4th generation reactor.

    One BIG question: why would you ever use the old German name for Gdansk? Not even the Germans would do that. It is provocative ... to say the least.
  • SteveK9 on November 18 2013 said:
    The world is in trouble when a large part of the population believes it is better to burn coal than use nuclear power. Coal kills literally millions a year, many orders of magnitude higher than nuclear power.
  • Dee on November 18 2013 said:
    Poland should follow Germany's lead and begin building Wind and Solar farms.

    Wind and Solar Energy farms are cheaper to build, quickler to built, cheaper to maintain and far safer than nuclear energy.

    Reuters recently reported that Germany is producing the energy-equivalent of 20 nuclear power plants with Solar Energy alone!

    Germany is having the same success with Wind Energy!

    And with Wind and Solar Energy, a country can have true energy independence without being reliant on fuel from another country.

    Wind and Solar Energy are win-wins for any country wanting to produce truly CLEAN, CHEAP energy.
  • John Chludzinski on November 20 2013 said:
    Because of their hysterical response to Fukushima, Germany now burns twice the amount of coal as do the Poles.
  • SA Kiteman on November 24 2013 said:
    On November 19 2013 Dee said:
    "Poland should follow Germany's lead and begin building Wind and Solar farms."

    Even the Germans are beginning to think that that would be a bad idea.

    GEN IV, yes. More specifically, Liquid Fluoride Thorium Recyclers.
  • @ DEE on November 24 2013 said:
    "Wind and Solar Energy farms are cheaper to build, quickler to built, cheaper to maintain and far safer than nuclear energy". Sorry man but your post looks like lobbing.

    ?? How did you count this ?? CHEAPER ?? Nuclear: 40-45$/MW -> Wind 100-110$/MW.

    carbon dioxide ->

    Paradox: For example Denmark, EU leader in RES emits over 9.05 kg/per citizen carbon dioxide but France with over 40 nuclear power plants over 6,3kg/per citizen.

    What about stability? How to increase power? If you built wind farms on polish area you will recieve max ~1000-1500MW (few wind zones, rest of area got low wind speed). As you know this is equivalent of one average, classical coal power plant.

    Solars ?? Sorry Poland is not like a Dubai with 360 sunny days per year.

    Read more about German problems with wind farms, for example: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/high-costs-and-errors-of-german-transition-to-renewable-energy-a-920288.html

    (after cancelling UE grands for RES, problems with synchronization, prizes of energy etc. Germans are unsatisfied for Merkel political decision(before election in she needs "die Grunen" (green party) votes, so use Fukushima's incident to close few oldest power plants and got)

    best regards
    DS

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