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Poland banks on nuclear energy to curb carbon emissions

Aljoša Milenković in Poland


The Polish authorities have given the green light to the beginning of the next phase of planning and construction of one of the largest nuclear power plants in this part of Europe. The project's costs are expected to reach $40 billion, and its completion is expected by the year 2043. Poland is the largest electricity producer in Central and Eastern Europe. And the country produces between 70 and 80 percent of its electricity needs in old, coal-burning power plants.

To reach the greenhouse gases emissions target and to modernize its outdated power generation, the authorities decided to go with nuclear energy. They plan to build several dozen small nuclear reactors across the country in the next few decades. And the first to be built is a nuclear facility in a tourist area close to the town of Choczewo on the Baltic Sea coast. 

The area there is known for its forests and sandy beaches, but it seems that inevitable changes are coming. 

One NGO's supports the project because it claims it has the least impact on the environment compared to other options.

Andrzej Gasiorowski, President of the NGO FOTA4climate Foundation, also emphasized there is some public support for the project, telling CGTN Europe "A number of sociological studies carried out both locally and in Poland show great public support for this investment. And I think Poles even see it as a challenge and something they can be proud of."

But not everyone agrees that this place is the right choice. Some locals are concerned that the nature and their lifestyle will eventually suffer from this project. Like one resident of the village of Lubiatowo who wanted to remain anonymous, in order to avoid any potential repercussions.

We went to the forest, where he says some preparation work for the construction have already started.

"At the beginning of the year, the Forest District in Choczewo said they were abandoning the planned tree cutting, and everyone was happy." he told us. "But as it turned out, they did not give up, and currently hundreds of hectares of forest have been razed. Two weeks ago, there was a beautiful forest. Today it is no longer, and all of that was done by the machines within three days."

The mayor of Choczevo, Wieslaw Gebka has no issue with the nuclear power plant coming to his town. But he urges the state to provide some much-needed support to the community that is about to go through some serious changes. 

"We need a real police station, we need an expansion of education facilities, and we must also remember that the power plant itself generates many additional jobs," said Gebka. "That means that when the commune grows to about 10,000 permanent residents, there will be a lot of changes here."

The Polish economy needs electricity. To have it in adequate quantities, the authorities say, some compromises have to be made.

Poland banks on nuclear energy to curb carbon emissions

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