USA and France Help Poland Go Nuclear

Monday, July 19, 2010

WARSAW (IDN) - Backed by the U.S. and France, Poland is set to tread the nuclear path and hopes to start generating atomic power by 2021. Presently, coal accounts for over 93 percent of the eastern European country's electricity, demand for which is expected to double by 2025.

A four-stage plan announced by Hanna Trojanowska, the government's Plenipotentiary for Nuclear Energy, envisages appropriate legislation by the end of 2010; site, technology and construction arrangements between 2011 and 2013; technical plans and site works in 2014 and 2015; and construction from 2016 to 2020.

An important step along the roadmap was taken on July 14, when the U.S. signed a joint declaration with the U.S. for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. The signing of the agreement between Trojanowska and U.S. under secretary of commerce and international trade Francisco Sanchez followed a U.S. nuclear trade mission to Warsaw.

The declaration outlines the two governments' intention to cooperate in the civil nuclear power area. Specifically, the governments seek to encourage their private sectors to participate in the construction of nuclear plants and supporting infrastructure; to foster scientific research and development works to make nuclear solutions safe, effective, economical and friendly for the environment; and to promote fair, open, and transparent tender procedures in the nuclear energy sectors in their respective countries.

The declaration also noted the intent to cooperate in the development of human resources for the civilian nuclear energy sector.

Sanchez led a mission to Poland on July 12 and 13 July of representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of State, as well as senior executives from ten U.S. suppliers of nuclear technology, equipment and services. The purpose of the mission's Warsaw visit was to highlight how American technologies, services and experience could help Poland achieve its plans to establish a nuclear power program, reports World Nuclear News (WNN).

Sanchez commented: "Signing the joint declaration underscores the importance the U.S. government places on supporting the development of Poland's civilian nuclear energy infrastructure." He added: "U.S. nuclear energy technology suppliers can make a vital contribution in the realization of Poland's nuclear power program."

Waldemar Pawlak, Poland's economy minister and deputy prime minister, said, "Development of nuclear energy will be an important component of Poland’s energy balance." He added: "We have a preliminary list of locations, (and) developing a legal framework for this enormous investment."

A proposed roadmap for nuclear energy was unveiled by the Polish government in August 2009, setting out the steps it will take with the aim of generating nuclear power by 2020.

By the end of 2010, Polish leaders want to have drafted the legislation required to give a stable framework for nuclear liability as well as power plant construction and operation. At the same time it will develop training programs and establish research facilities and institutions for nuclear energy.

These will be under the domain of a forthcoming National Atomic Energy Agency. It is hoped that a consortium to actually build the first nuclear power plant will be formed.

Locations for the power plant are to be identified between 2011 and the end of 2014, with a final decision taken towards the end of the period. By this time, the building consortium should have sourced its finance and selected the reactor technology it wants.

State-owned Polska Grupa Energetyczna SA (PGE) has previously said it would like to build two nuclear power plants, each with a capacity of 3000 MWe -- two or three large reactors each. One potential site would be the northern town of Zarnowiec, where four Russian VVER-440 pressurized water reactors began construction only to be cancelled in 1990.

The U.S.-Poland agreement was signed with six months of a joint declaration on energy, environment and climate between France and Poland on November 6, 2009

The declaration was signed in Paris by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The cooperation, a statement said, was aimed at 'increasing the energy security of the European Union (EU) through technological and geographical diversification of its energy mix and increasing energy efficiency to combat climate change.'

Under the declaration, France and Poland agreed to cooperate in the promotion of the development of nuclear power in Poland, as set out in the country's energy policy up to 2030. The two nations reaffirmed that the introduction of nuclear energy into Poland must be in compliance with the highest standards in safety, security, non-proliferation and preservation of the environment, especially with regards to the management of radioactive waste.

Poland and France agreed to encourage cooperation in training and research and development in the field of nuclear. The two countries noted the satisfactory conclusion of an agreement between France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and a consortium of Polish research institutes.

Under that agreement, a training program was recently launched in France for Polish universities. In addition, Agence France Nucléaire International (AFNI) has held discussions with Polish authorities about creating the best system for training personnel for the Polish nuclear energy industry.

France has agreed to provide technical assistance to state-owned utility Polska Grupa Energetyczna SA PGE in bringing a nuclear power plant into operation by 2020, as mandated by the government in its energy policy.

Tusk said France was becoming a key partner for Poland when it comes to the future of nuclear energy.

Poland has the largest reserves of coal in the EU (14 billion tonnes), and some 93 percent of its electricity is generated by coal-fired plants. Poland's electricity consumption is forecast to grow by 90 percent to 2025, but the EU has placed stringent restrictions on CO2 emissions. A roadmap for nuclear energy was unveiled by the Polish government in August 2009, setting out the steps it will take with the aim of generating nuclear power before 2021.

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