Petar Petrović: Poland bets on nuclear energy, Germany bets on PR

Berlin has not changed its mind on the nuclear issue. Neither the war in Ukraine, the bad experience with Nord Stream 2, dependence on energy supplies from Russia, nor the demands of climate policy changed Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear power. Finally, in mid-April, the last three nuclear power plants there were shut down. To hide all the negative consequences of this decision, Berlin has reinforced its propaganda around its “Energivent” policy, which in fact has less and less to do with energy progress and more to cover up the subsequent mistakes and failures.

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The issue of nuclear energy continues to cause intense controversy in Germany. This is due, among other things, to the fact that the war in Ukraine has had a major impact on the power grabs by Europe, including Germany, but Olaf Scholz’s government has stubbornly stuck to the once-decided decision.

It is worth noting that his cabinet’s only offer to nuclear plants was to extend the process of extracting energy from them as they were slated to shut down at the end of last year.

At the time, the Social Democratic president rejected the insistence of his small coalition partner – the liberals of the FDP and the opposition Christian Democrats, who called for the process to be extended only for the duration of the crisis. These proposals met the understanding of many experts and, interestingly, the majority of German society. Society has recently experienced the real problems of limiting energy supplies and understands how important energy security is.

The Shadow of Fukushima

This is a big change from the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, when until recently Germany seemed to be reeling from fears. At the time, three-quarters of them wanted to abandon nuclear power as soon as possible. It also influenced the policy of Angela Merkel’s cabinet, which eventually joined the anti-nuclear camp.

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Did the Germans realize what the price of the policy referred to as Energiewende, or “energy progress,” would be? I don’t think so. Both earlier shutdowns of nuclear power plants and later shutdowns will have an impact on their power system. Germany also wants to give up coal at the same time.

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The combination of these two projects means that our western neighbor’s system will also require dozens of new gas blocks. However, for the time being, shortfalls after decommissioned nuclear power plants have to be supplemented with others. Coal-fired power plants would lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector, and would contradict the “green” vision of zero-emission Germany promoted by local policy.

Zero emissions on paper

“This contradiction clearly affects Berlin’s credibility in this field – the shutdown of the last nuclear power plants during the energy crisis and the confrontation of Germany and the EU’s ambitious climate goals are facing widespread criticism abroad. It is worth adding that the German Atomausstieg policy also has negative consequences for the European integrated energy system,” said OSW. We read in Michał Kędzierski’s analysis for

Now Germany will be forced Import of electricity from neighboring countries should be increased. The future is not good either, because, as the OSW expert points out, Germany will transform itself from an exporter to a net importer of energy already in the mid-2020s. And they will increase its acquisition from France, which gets three-quarters from… nuclear power plants.

Germany also has to take into account rising energy prices. One that comes from nuclear is much cheaper than that derived from coal and gas blocks.

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It is difficult to find an answer that explains why Germany is behaving the way it is on energy issues.

In this matter they have already shown a combination of imprudence, arrogance and manipulation – it is difficult to describe their dependence on energy supplies from the East in any other way. Then they trumpeted to everyone that they would be completely “green” and never give up nuclear power and coal, while at the same time they would distribute cheap Russian gas throughout Europe. Germany wanted to become a powerhouse, and when Russia decided to invade it became an obstacle to all attempts at Ukraine.

That’s what Poles do

Now the Germans can only see how well the Poles are diversifying their energy sector. Despite the fact that our country has been dependent on goods from the East for years, which Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki aptly described as putting a gun to the head, a lot has changed recently. The turning point was definitely the LNG terminal in Świnoujście, followed by the construction of the Baltic pipeline, as well as the decision to open up to nuclear energy, “big” – power plants and “small” – several SMR reactors.

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Poles often favor getting energy from nuclear, which is a serious support for our system, still largely based on coal.

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In turn, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) and ZE PAK jointly established Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. Signed a letter of cooperation on the strategic Polish-Korean project to build a nuclear power plant in Pątnów. The government announces that two government and one private nuclear power plants will be operational in our country by 2040.

“Small” but effective

A “small” nuclear is also coming into operation – thanks to PKN Orlan, Synthos Green Energy wants to build one or two reactors by 2030. The first one can be built near one of seven cities: Astrolaka, Woklavec, Stawi Monowski, Debrowa Kornysa, Nowa Huda, SEZ Darnobrsek – Stalowa Wola and Warsaw.

Their efficiency is proven by the fact that one reactor can provide enough energy for a city of 150,000. It occupies one-tenth the size of a large nuclear power plant, requires a much smaller containment zone, and meets higher safety standards, making it much easier to build and operate.

Quickly and efficiently

As T pointed outr Piotr Balcerowski, vice-president of the Staszic Institute, in a commentary for Energetyka24, said that the very low investment costs and the speed of building the BWRX-300 reactor from blocks, “the project to create a small nuclear power network. The plants could become a very effective and fast way to achieve decarbonization of Polish energy and district heating and zero greenhouse gas emissions. .

As Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of points out, renewable energy sources, especially photovoltaics and wind farms, are giving more and more power to the Poles, and lower tariffs and greater freedom can be seen in particular. Favorable weather. However, the national authority system has increasing complexity in their coordination and therefore requires more flexibility. One of the answers is nuclear power combined with RES.

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For this “dance” you need both Atom and RES

Because renewables will be more and more The Polish government proposes new support mechanisms, mainly under the My Electricity program in subsequent editions. However, there is one problem – to maintain system stability Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne needs to control the operation of RES, i.e. 50 Hz frequency. Last New Year’s Eve and Sunday, April 23, when beautiful weather delivered record-breaking supply from photovoltaics, the poles also reduced energy demand.

As Wojciech Jakóbik notes – this is a disaster for the harvest of RES, problems with its integration will be repeated more and more often. This, in turn, means that Poland’s energy system needs to be more flexible – because “coal-fired power plants are moderately flexible” and “Poland does not plan to become too dependent on gas energy” – through RES and nuclear power, which ensures both security of supply and cheap energy.

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However, as the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State Assets Jacek Sasin pointed out, it will cost a trillion zlotys to implement all the investments in nuclear energy – we cannot get and spend that amount quickly, that’s why we say energy. The change in Poland should be carried out in a reasonable manner, spread over time – explained the minister.

The Polish energy sector is changing, everything is going in the right direction, but you have to be patient. Defend their plans against pressure groups from Brussels who pretend not to notice Germany’s PR tactics and focus on undermining real changes in the Polish energy mix.

Peter Petrovic

The author is a journalist of Polish Radio

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