Poland’s largest power group opts to back wind over nuclear

PGE, Poland’s biggest power group has decided to abandon a role in building the country’s first nuclear power plant and will instead focus investment on offshore wind energy.

Reuters reports state-run refiner PKN Orlen (PKN.WA) could take on PGE’s role, while the latter announces a $10bn offshore wind power project.

Both moves into renewables and nuclear represent a major change in Polish energy policy, diversifying away from the country’s traditional coal-fired power base, in a bid to fill an electricity shortfall and meet EU emission standards.

An unnamed source told the news agency, PGE could not fund both projects and cheap technology had swung the decision in favour of wind. PGE could still play a smaller role in the nuclear project which has been delayed and still needs government approval.

A proposed law is currently before the Polish parliament aiming at facilitating easy construction of wind turbines.

If the law is passed, as expected, several other wind farm projects could also proceed.

Polenergia has said it would like to build a wind farm in the Baltic by 2022. PKN Orlen is also considering building one.

PGE said in March that it wants to build offshore windfarms with a capacity of 2.5 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

Analysts and investors say that offshore wind farms are the easiest and fastest way for Poland to fill the expected capacity gap from coal and reduce CO2 emissions in line with EU’s 2030 targets as Poland seeks improved ties with Brussels.

The decision to open up the offshore power industry could also draw in investors. Statoil said in April it would join Polenergia’s offshore project which has drawn interest from other international wind companies. “

The Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) estimates that offshore windfarms with a total capacity of 6 GW would help create around 77,000 new jobs and add around 60 billion zlotys to economic growth.


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