|Fig. 1: Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his cabinet gave green light to the Polish Nuclear Energy Program. (Source: Wikimedia Commons).|
On January 28, 2014 Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his cabinet green lighted the Polish nuclear program. The project will be managed by the state-owned company PGE and is estimated to cost approximately 40-60 billion zloty ($13-$19 billion). As for now, the location of the nuclear power site will be finalized by 2016, with construction beginning by 2019 and operation by 2024. In order to provide expertise and financial support, two French companies Areva and EDF have signed memoranda of understandings with Polish construction firms in order to collaborate on the construction of the nuclear plants.  Poland is the EU's largest lignite producer, and more than 80% of the electricity generated in the country comes from coal. As for now, Poland has been able to meet EU obligations to cut Carbon Dioxide emissions, but the EU is demanding further reductions of up to 40% by 2030. Moreover, the EU wants a "binding" target of at least 27% for the share of renewables in the overall energy mix of a EU country.  Evidently, Poland is trying to diversify its energy production to reduce its dependency on coal.
State-controlled top Polish utility company PGE is the project's coordinator, having until end-2016 to pick a site and find a technological partner. It PGE said it wanted to control the special investment company set up to run the nuclear plant's construction. The possible partners it is considering are the state-controllod Tauron, Enea, and KGHM, with no deal found yet. As for now, the company is aiming at a stake of roughly 70% of the planned 60 billion zlotys ($19.5 billion) worth deal. However, the company has also raised some concerns over the project's financing, especially as PGE is also involved in a costly search for shale gas in Poland. However, PGE is confident that the project will be successful, as Poland, eastern Europe's largest Economy, is battling to limit its energy sector's dependence on Russia. 
As to the Polish Ministry of Economy, the rationale for introducing nuclear power is three-fold: (1) to assure a long-term security of electricity supply, (2) to maintain electricity prices at levels acceptable by the national economy and the society, and (3) to reduce the emission of Sulfur Dioxide, Mono-Nitrogen Oxide, and Carbon-Dioxide. For the long-term, the Polish Ministry expects a project lifetime of 150-300 years, with a total investment value of around 100 billion zloty. This is supposed to produce 50 TWh per year, which would be approximately one third of the present electricity production, saving around 47 million tons of Carbon Dioxide per year. With the introduction of nuclear power, the Polish government is envisioning political and economic benefits. Some being: energy security improvement, building Poland's image of a modern country, and the creation of an entirely new sector of national economy as an economic stimulator. 
By introducing nuclear power, the Polish government is pursuing to further develop and strengthen its power autarky and economic growth. However, as for now public opinion is split, as a survey in November indicated that 50% of Poles favored building the nation's first nuclear power plant, while 8% were undecided. 
© Alexander Liegl. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
 J. Winterbauer, "Poland Now Wants to Build Nuclear Power Plants [Polen will jetzt Atomkraftwerke bauen]," Die Welt, 29 Jan 14.
 "A Different Energiewende," The Economist, 8 Feb 14.
 K. Slowikowska and A. Krajewski, "PGE Seeks Partners for Poland's $19.5 Billion First Nuclear Plant," Reuters, 29 Jan 14.
 "Polish Nuclear Power Program," Polish Ministry of Economy, January 2011.