The discussion regarding the location of Poland's first nuclear power plant has resurfaced across traditional and social media. Will this cause any delays in its launch?
The construction and location of nuclear power plants in Poland have once again become a topic of discussion due to a recent statement made by Pomeranian Voivode Beata Rutkiewicz on 17 January. During a meeting at the County Office in Chojnice, Voivode Rutkiewicz, who assumed office in December 2023, raised concerns regarding the chosen location of Poland's first nuclear power plant in Lubiatów-Kopalin, located in the Choczewo commune.
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Location change means delays
Experts have raised an alarm that a possible change of location would delay the start of a project by years. The power plant was initially planned to be constructed in Lubiatowo-Kopalin, a location agreed upon in cross-border negotiations with Poland's neighbours. It was mentioned in the contract signed with the US consortium Westinghouse - Bechtel, which was supposed to handle its construction.
Unfortunately, on 17th January, Governor Rutkiewicz issued a statement that was perceived to have heated the situation. According to journalist Jakub Wiech's post on X (formerly Twitter), the statement included statements like, "it is reasonable to revisit and analyse the environmental decision issued," and that "final decisions on the location of the nuclear power plant in Pomerania will be taken by the Polish government in due time [...]."
Choczewo municipality confirmed as location for new power station
It was confirmed on 18th January by Jan Grabiec, the Head of the Prime Minister's Office, and Paulina Hennig-Kloska, the Minister for Climate and Environment, that the new Government will not challenge the decision to locate the power plant in the Choczewo commune.
In a video posted on the "Elektryfikacja" YouTube channel, Wiech suggested that the governor's statements might have been politically motivated at the local level, considering the upcoming local government elections in April. However, it is challenging to determine the legitimacy of this claim. Moreover, recent polls indicate that most of the Polish public supports the construction of nuclear power plants in Poland.
According to a survey conducted by the Energy Regulatory Office (Polish: Urząd Regulacji Energetyki) and the Social Research Centre (Polish: Pracownia Badań Społecznych), 69% of Poles support the building of nuclear power plants, and 45% are willing to accept them near their place of residence, as reported by PAP in November 2023. In contrast, a December 2022 CBOS survey revealed that 75% of respondents supported the construction of a power plant, of which 54% would not have any problems with its location being near their residence.
When will Poland's first nuclear power plant be built?
On January 18th, Jakub Wiech used a meme featuring Skeletor to highlight some inconvenient truths about the Polish nuclear project. He pointed out that the project is already two years behind schedule and that no financial model is still in place.
Similarly, MP Paulina Matysiak, who works in the parliamentary Energy Committee, argued that changing the location of the nuclear power plant would be too costly and time-consuming. Instead, she suggested that the project should move forward without further delay. "We need nuclear power plants in our energy mix, and we don't have time for another discussion," she wrote. "The consensus on the need is there; let's stop putting hurdles in our way."
Construction of the power plant in the Choczewo commune is scheduled to begin in 2026, with the first reactor expected to start operation in 2033. Experts argue that nuclear power plants are crucial to the energy transition towards lower emissions and electricity prices.