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The Warsaw Voice » Business » December 21, 2012
Business & Economy
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Plowing Ahead With Nuclear Energy
December 21, 2012   
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Marzena Piszczek, vice-president of PGE Energia Jądrowa, the company tasked by the government with developing Poland’s nuclear energy program, talks to the Voice.

Officially, the government has not yet taken a definitive decision to go ahead with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Does that make life difficult for you?
The government is preparing the project. A Program for Polish Nuclear Energy has been drafted and submitted for consultations. Parliament has adopted a special legislation package and the National Atomic Energy Agency is getting ready to assume the role of the nuclear supervision authority. Things are going well between PGE and the government.

How much will it cost in total to build a nuclear power plant in Poland, and then a second one?
We will not be able to give a cost estimate for the first nuclear power plant until we’re closer to a decision under the integrated bidding procedure and to determining the partnership and funding models for the project. What we are looking at today is zl.35-50 billion.

Our analyses so far indicate that the project will be profitable. But a project as complex as the construction of a nuclear power plant is only be viable with government support and it also needs regulations to guarantee that its economic future is predictable. Work on different funding models for the nuclear power plant is nearing completion and all the models developed so far feature government support mechanisms to make sure the project is successful.

The government originally announced that Poland should have its first nuclear power plant by 2020. Why was this date delayed? When can Poland realistically expect to have the plant up and running? When is the second planned plant likely to come online?
Under the strategy and schedule which PGE adopted in February 2012, the power plant’s first power unit will be completed in 2023. It is a realistic date, but since delays might occur due to, for example, problems with obtaining administrative decisions, the date is regarded as an optimistic scenario. In the base scenario, the first power unit will be started up in 2024.

Which investors, companies and institutions, foreign and domestic, are you trying to get involved in the Polish nuclear energy program? What will their role be?
Each phase of the project will require different businesses and institutions to become involved, both foreign and domestic. When it comes to the companies we will be working with in the near future, we are about to choose the one to study the potential locations over the next two years. We are also close to selecting the project manager who under our plans should begin work in the first half of 2013.

How difficult is it to plan such a project in the face of uncertainty? It’s easy to see how investors could get cold feet after the Fukushima disaster and Germany’s decision to withdraw from nuclear energy. Media suggestions that, at a time of crisis, Poland can’t afford both a nuclear energy project and a shale gas program can’t have helped either.
The government has said there is room in Poland for both shale gas and nuclear and conventional energy. As for the developments in Fukushima and Germany’s decision to withdraw from nuclear energy, after analyzing plans by countries such as Finland, Britain and the Czech Republic you can conclude that there is no withdrawal from nuclear energy in Europe.

At the recent International Forum on Nuclear Energy organized by The Warsaw Voice, you urged the government to provide solid guarantees to persuade investors to climb aboard the Polish nuclear project. Does there need to be more coordination between your company and the government in order to move forward effectively?
We plan to have the integrated bidding procedure concluded in 2015, while the provisions of the Specification of Essential Procurement Conditions have to be formulated in 2014. In other words, by then we need to know the answers to current questions about the market for energy as such, trade in energy and financial guarantees, including government guarantees, a letter of guarantee and other ways to ensure the project is economically predictable. We are also planning to intensify our dialogue with the government.
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