Energy Nuclear 7 August, 2019 10:00 am   
COMMENTS: Mateusz Gibała

Sobolewski: Is it too late for nuclear energy in Poland? (POLEMICS)

At the Civic Coalition Program Forum held recently in Warsaw, the prominent Civic Platform Member of European Parliament (MEP) on one of the panels stated that “It is too late for the nuclear in Poland. Energy from the nuclear for 10-12 years is too distant perspective”. Well, I can ask a question for whom this perspective is too far away for a MEP or for my country? – says Dr. Józef Sobolewski*.

If for me something goes beyond the area of my perception, then I say that I am not doing it for myself, but for my little daughter and her future in my country. After all, if a nuclear power plant is being built, a plant is built, the lifetime of which is comparable to the life of a human being, so we do not build it for ourselves. After all, fighting climate change and reducing emissions, we do this in the perspective of many decades rather than an one decade.

As a replacement for the development of nuclear energy, the MEP proposed us a German energy transformation, i.e. a transition to wind and gas. Of course, he meant the target German model, because in the present it is wind and lignite, and also hard coal, but … only imported! In the future German model, coal will be replaced with gas, it is why the Russians together with Germany are building Nord Stream 2. After all, from the first gas pipeline there are already significant surpluses of gas from Russia that they sell in the EU. Although, the Germans want to build an LNG terminal, to calm down the Americans, Russia will always be able to sell gas to Germany cheaper, … always!

If, as in the mentioned panel, we talk about the cost of generation, it should be noted that the cost of electricity in the EU is a kind of economic and political fiction. If the costs of generation from renewable sources are lower, why are the energy costs for households getting higher? Or maybe it is not the costs of RES generation that are decreasing, but in a politically motivated way, costs for the households grow and the costs of manufacturing from other sources to increase, which reduces the cost of RES generation relatively. It is worth being aware that in Germany (2018) the actual energy costs are only 21% in the price of electricity, the rest (79%) are surcharges and taxes, including 23% … of support for those who save us from rising energy prices, for renewable sources.

Speaking on the panel, the MEP rightly states that EUR 5 billion of EU support for liquidation of coal mining is not enough. At the beginning of the 1960s, hard coal mining in Germany employed about half a million people. The move away from hard coal mining, which lasted almost 50 years, is estimated to have cost the German taxpayer more than EUR 300 billion. If we add almost the same amount of euro spent to support renewable energy, the costs of this transformation will already exceed half a trillion euro. It is a very large sum, rounding PLN 2,000,000,000,000. For comparison, for this sum, Germans could build about 200 nuclear blocks.

Remaining with the costs, it is unfortunately openly stated that the European Investment Bank has already made a decision to refuse financial support not only to coal-based energy generation (which in connection with reducing emissions can be understood), but also to nuclear energy. Power industry, which produces half of the zero-emission electricity generated in the EU. The latest EU proposals on the so-called taxonomy, that is, what is climate-sustainable and worth to be supported by EU funds, exclude zero-emission nuclear energy, but at least not at this moment, they do not exclude natural gas with his emission of half of hard coal. Why did this happen, maybe MEP should just explain this.

In his arguments against nuclear energy, the Polish MEP is accusing Poland of the lack of personnel prepared for the construction of nuclear power plants. Well, I would like to correct that we cannot build reactors themselves, well at least at the beginning, but there are quite a lot of companies that can participate in such a project. The Ministry of Energy has issued a catalog of such companies, and once after a similar speech of MEPs, the ministry informed him about the possibility of receiving this catalog. We have sufficient potential to develop the nuclear industry in Poland, and yet a solid scientific-research base, it is enough to have more faith in the skills of Polish engineers and scientists.

By the way, as far as I know, the main part of the windmill, the turbine (generator), is also not produced in Poland, and I do not think that a German company supplying 70% of turbines in Europe would manufacture them in Poland. Production, or rather manufacture, because not design, wind towers or propellers is not high technology, it’s like putting construction structures. But the fact is that in both cases we can do it well.

For me, nuclear energy is a question of the energy sovereignty of my country and from Polish MEPs, especially the chairmen of important European Parliament committees, I expect a support for our country’s efforts in pursuing its own energy policy.

These 10 GW of nuclear power, planned in PEP2040, which should appear in our energy system in 2033-2043 is to be or not to be not only for our sovereignty, but also our development and our future. Not the whole Union lives in the atmosphere of the green absurd and it is valuable to act together with others to ventilate the European atmosphere and create conditions under which accession treaties will be respected and each country will be able to decide its own energy mix in such a way as to limit the most effectively not only carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, but also any other environmental pollutants, even if this environment is in distant China.

*The views presented in this article are private opinions of Józef Sobolewski and do not represent the position of any institution.