September 6, 2017 / 10:34 AM / 3 months ago

Poland may have first nuclear power plant by 2029

KRYNICA ZDROJ, Poland, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Coal-dependent Poland aims to build its first nuclear power plant by 2029 to reduce carbon emissions, its energy minister said on Wednesday, a little later than envisaged last year.

Warsaw announced the project in 2009, but hit numerous delays due to falling power prices and Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, which eroded public support.

Last year, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) revived the plan after it won elections in 2015, and said it aimed to build the plant within ten years.

“We would like to build three units (of the nuclear power plant) in 5-year intervals, with the first one in 2029,” Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Krynica Zdroj in the south of Poland.

“Our initial estimates show that one unit will cost 23-25 billion zlotys ($7 billion),” he added.

One of the project’s major obstacles has been financing. State-run, Poland’s biggest power firm which was responsible for it, failed to take it to a decisive phase.

In 2010, PGE set up a special vehicle for the project and in 2014 agreed to sell a third of its stake to three state-run companies - KGHM, Enea and Tauron.

The energy ministry is now working on a new financing plan, which was supposed to be ready by end of June.

When it is ready, Tchorzewski will present it to the government, which will take the final decision.

Earlier this year, Tchorzewski was quoted as saying Poland would want to finance the plant on its own.

“Our idea is to secure financing of the companies engaged in the project and not financing for the company which will conduct the project. This will help us extend the amortisation period and thus keep the electricity price at a lower level,” he said on Wednesday.

Poland’s state-run firms have been busy building new coal-fuelled power plants. There are three such projects under construction in Opole, Jaworzno and Kozienice, and one - in Ostroleka - will start in the coming years.

Tchorzewski said that might be enough.

“After finishing the investments which are now being conducted in big coal-fuelled units, we will not be planning new projects based on coal,” he said.

$1 = 3.5538 zlotys Reporting by Wojciech Zurawski; Writing by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Mark Potter

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