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Poland to change location of planned nuclear power plant?

This article is authored by the Baltic Nuclear Energy Forum, which is set to take place on 18-22 March in Gdańsk, Poland. As an official media partner, CEENERGYNEWS will be present at the conference. 

The discussion about changing the location of the nuclear power plant construction in Poland has gained momentum. This situation was initiated by the Pomeranian Voivode, Beata Rutkiewicz, who reportedly said during a visit to Lubiatowo: “the environmental decision for the Lubiatowo location has been issued, but we are still considering whether it is justified. There are also various opinions about the chosen technology. The next few months will be decisive,” as reported by Dziennik Bałtycki on 17 January this year.

Although the Voivode herself stated in a release that “it is untrue to claim that a decision to change the location of the nuclear power plant in Pomerania has been made” and only “in connection with a large number of comments and discussions, it is justified to re-examine and analyse the environmental decision for the power plant location in Lubiatowo,” experts, politicians, and commentators have undertaken analyses regarding the potential change in the location of the construction of Poland’s first nuclear power plant.

As we know, the environmental proceedings for Choczewo were initiated in 2017 and the decision itself was issued in 2023. It can be inferred that reinitiating proceedings for another location is a similarly time-consuming process. As experts point out, the delay in the location decision translates to a delay for the entire project—not only for the construction itself but also for the entire energy transformation of Poland, aiming to ensure energy supply security and an effective journey towards zero emissions.

Is the current Lubiatowo-Kopalino location optimal for the construction of a power plant?  Maciej Lipka from the Foundation stated: “From an operational perspective, this location has many advantages. It is by the Baltic Sea, which is excellent for cooling such a power plant, and the place is fairly well-connected to nearby centres, such as Wejherowo or the entire Tricity. Moreover, in northern Poland, there is currently not much generating capacity. When offshore wind farms and the power plant are built, this generating capacity will balance out.”

The expert also points out that the power plant will already be built too late: “This is one of the main objections—that in relation to the challenges of energy transformation, this power plant is being built too late and too expensively. However, we already know that to stop climate change, we must move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. The construction of the power plant itself takes about a decade until its commissioning and capacity attainment. Wind and solar farms are, of course, built faster, but Poland does not have such potential for renewable energy sources (wind and sun). Therefore, a decade should not be frightening. In 10 years, we will need clean energy, and we will need more of it.”

The location itself has been controversial for years, arousing strong opposition among the local community in the Choczewo commune. As Dr Paweł Gajda from the Department of Sustainable Energy Development at the Faculty of Energy and Fuels of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow emphasised, without social support, such investments as nuclear energy cannot be realised. “This is also observed in Europe, where low support for nuclear power over the last 30 years has led to the suspension of investments. It should be remembered that investments in nuclear power are significant undertakings requiring state support at the organisational and administrative levels. It is difficult for politicians to make decisions contrary to societal expectations. Therefore, the development of nuclear energy in Europe was hindered for a long time. Currently, especially after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, which emphasised the importance of energy security, there is a change in the approach to nuclear power. We see movements in many countries that previously considered the future of nuclear power and now declare new investments in nuclear energy. The goal is to have a source of energy that is both clean and beneficial for the climate and, at the same time, ensures supply security, which is very important.”

MKiŚ (Ministry of Climate and Environment) Quashes Speculations

Speculations about a potentially new location for the construction of the nuclear power plant are quashed by the Ministry of Climate and Environment. On January 19, MKiŚ issued a statement, stating that there is no basis for changing the location of Poland’s first nuclear power plant, and the decision is final. The communication emphasised that a change in location would mean starting the entire process from the beginning and could delay the investment by up to 10 years.

The expert quotes above come from the ROZSZCZEPIENIE podcast, conducted as part of the Baltic Nuclear Energy Forum project, the first conference in Poland on nuclear energy in the Baltic Sea region.

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