Energy Nuclear 12 February, 2019 10:00 am   
COMMENTS: Mateusz Gibała

Nowacki: No changes about the nuclear after changes in the ministry (INTERVIEW)

Staff changes at the Ministry of Energy will not affect the implementation of the nuclear project. As convinced in an interview with, the new director of the nuclear energy department at the Ministry of Energy, works on the construction of the power plant are continued, and the project has the support of the government. Is nuclear energy in Poland a costly dream or a real scenario?

Tomasz Nowacki: This is a real scenario, which of course can be expensive like any large energy investment.

Will the recent personnel changes at the Ministry of Energy affect the delay of works on the construction of a nuclear power plant?

I would like to calm it down here. There is no question of withdrawal. Nothing changes. The change in the position of the director of the nuclear power department is a personnel change that often happens in public administration. Nobody quits thinking about the nuclear. The government is serious about this topic. It requires time, however. I can not declare it will be in a month or this quarter. I do not want to make empty promises. We are continuing to work on the nuclear without destroying the achievements of my predecessor. Any change in personnel involves, of course, some optimization and reorganization of tasks, but I assure you that no revolution will take place. There may be organizational changes, but they will not affect the implementation of the nuclear project.

Yes, but according to the draft energy strategy by 2040, a power plant with a capacity of 1-1,5 GW is to be commissioned in 2033. If the decision on its construction is not made soon, will we have to put the project back on the shelf?

We do everything to miss the schedule foreseen in PEP2040.

There was also a concept for the construction of another power plant. Until 2043, 6-9 GW of power is to be installed in nuclear installations. In the past, energy minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski pointed out that the most preferred location would be Bełchatów. Could it really be there?

At this stage I would not like to settle this. This requires a serious decision. As for the location itself, there is undoubtedly a rather extensive technical infrastructure, especially transmission, which is an argument for that location. However, unambiguous declaration at this stage, especially from my side, would be premature.

Let’s get back to 2033. If by this time the first nuclear power plant is not created, it will have to be replaced by another generation source. Can a problem arise then?

I can assure you that all previously undertaken activities are continued. Some may even be carried out with even more effort.

On the other hand, more and more countries are choosing to give up nuclear power. Contrary to this tendency, Poland wants to acquire energy from the nuclear?

The decisions of individual states are sovereign. Each of them has various economic or political conditions. Some countries may not want to use this technology, but if it pays off, why not use it. I believe that this balance is relatively good for the nuclear, because if we have declarations from some countries like Germany or perhaps Spain, we can see dynamic development of nuclear energy in the world, mainly in Asia and the Middle East, but new blocks are also being created in the United States . It is difficult to talk about a return from the nuclear. What’s more, if we look at nuclear technology through the prism of economic development, we will see that nuclear power plants are being built where the economy is also thriving. It is in Asia and the Middle East and in the US today are the main centers of economic development in the world. Yes, some countries give up, but at the same time others are investing in the nuclear. Let’s look at our nearest neighborhood. Belarussians have a very advanced nuclear project with a capacity of 2,400 MW.

At the same time, projects in the UK or Finland not only record delays, but also exceed the originally set budget. Is it possible, then, to build a nuclear power plant on time, including a cost estimate?

Looking at a few European projects, and especially at Finnish Olkiluoto, the experiences are actually negative. It is different in Asia. Let’s look at the example of South Korea. There, nuclear installations are created according to the schedule. Sometimes they are completed ahead of schedule. It’s the result of having experience in planning and building on time. It is also a proven technology of high quality and applicable in Europe. Everything depends on the supplier and also regulatory conditions. Perhaps there is some scope for optimization here in European Union countries. Please note that the Olkiluoto project was the first nuclear project in Europe after a long break. Even then, it was said that due to this time gap a certain generation gap was created. There was no possibility of continuous transfer of experience. It is different in Asia, where the construction of one reactor ends and the other begins. The staff and with it their experience are transferred to another project. Also, in Belarus the Russians are able to build on schedule. Similarly, Koreans and Chinese. We’ll see what the effect will be in the United States. You can not assume it will be bad. This is a matter of some optimization, combined with the experience of predecessors – contractors of other projects.

Do you believe in an alliance of nuclear and RES? Would it be an attempt to combine fire with water?

I do not think that any technology had to compete with another. Electricity generation technologies are complementary to each other, not hostile. The investor decides what is more profitable for him to build. However, each technology has some advantages and disadvantages. We are not talking only about costs, but also about the essence of these sources in the system. The role of sources working in the base, which include large-scale nuclear energy, is completely different, and Renewable Energy is another thing because of the unpredictability of work and the need to support them. RES are needed in the system but the necessity of their construction also results from the adopted external regulations, eg EU regulations, and in that case we must also go in this direction. If we look at any country, with some exceptions like Norway, France or Poland, whose energy is based mainly on one technology (hydro, nuclear, coal), then everywhere we have a comprehensive mix of electricity production technology. You should strive for such a model. No technology competes with each other. Each has different characteristics.

Similarly, nuclear that can be used not only for the production of energy, but also for heat. Do you think that nuclear cogeneration should be reflected in the energy strategy?

It is worth investing in all technologies that will be considered viable. From the point of view of acquiring electricity or heat, nuclear sources are a kind of solution, because thanks to them we are able to obtain quite large amounts of heat from a relatively small installation. The use of such a source must also have economic justification. If it is, then such sources will be created because the market will decide.

Will the program for the development of high-temperature reactors in Poland be continued then?

It is difficult to name what is an advanced program in Poland in this area. Probably some analyzes will be finalized and further rational decisions will be made after the conclusions are formulated.

Interview conducted by Piotr Stępiński