Poland must start building its first nuclear power plant by 2014 if it is to meet a self-imposed target of commissioning by 2020, an official at potential reactor vendor GE Hitachi said.
According to Reuters, Poland is eyeing nuclear energy to reduce its reliance on highly polluting coal, which now generates more than 90 per cent of its power needs, and wants to build 6 GW of nuclear power, or a forecast 16 per cent of annual production by 2030.
GE Hitachi is competing with Westinghouse and Areva to build Poland's first nuclear unit. The Polish government had delayed the completion target date to 2022 but later said the first of two units producing electricity could still be in operation by around 2020, as originally envisaged.
"We do need to have a site in late 2013 or early 2014 to dig the first shovel, and that would mean the 2020 date is possible with some margin," Danny Roderick, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy senior vice president, told a news conference in Warsaw.
"We need two years to build the appropriate infrastructure, to provide the construction site with electricity, water and so on. Then first concrete comes, and a further 40 months are needed for reactor construction, followed by one year of testing."
Poland has still to choose a location for the power station as well as push the necessary legislation through parliament. PGE, the state-owned utility named to implement the project, estimates the cost of the planned nuclear site at EUR3-3.5bn ($4.1-$4.7bn) for each gigawatt of power, putting the total at some EUR18-21bn.
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