Łukaszewska-Trzeciakowska: Poland needs flexible electricity grids

– “If we want to have large and small nuclear reactors, renewables, and offshore plants in the system, we need flexible grids”, says Anna Łukaszewska-Trzeciakowska, Government Plenipotentiary for Strategic Energy Infrastructure.

Publikacja: 07.09.2023 02:38

Łukaszewska-Trzeciakowska: Poland needs flexible electricity grids

Foto: Alek Zieliński

How is the nuclear power plant project in Poland progressing? I suppose no one questions it anymore?

There are still some feeble attempts to stop the project, but the voices questioning the need for investment in nuclear power are gone. The subject of nuclear energy has been revived across Europe. Virtually all countries, apart from Germany, rely on nuclear at the base of the energy system.

We, on the other hand, are on the verge of three key milestones. On Monday, a delegation of Polish Nuclear Power Plants will fly with me to the United States for business and political talks in Washington. We are closing the first engineering contract and hope to be able to sign it soon. This will be a key stage in the design of the nuclear plant. In parallel, we are waiting for the environmental decision. Virtually, all the elements are now closed in this regard. So, I hope that in early autumn, we will hear that the decision has been made. This should be followed by a decision on location. These processes are happening efficiently. The ambitious timetable to commission the power plant by 2033 will be met.

There is also a lot going on in the highest-voltage transmission networks.

Thiat’s true. If we want to have large nuclear power, SMRs (Small Modular Reactors), renewables, and offshore in the system, we need flexible grids to accommodate this. At the same time, we need energy prices that will attract more investors. There is an idea of how to reconcile fire and water, i.e., making the highest voltage electricity grids even more stable and making our country even more attractive to large energy-intensive investors. This is a fundamental change — a project that opens up to investment.

The government is also thinking about regaining sovereignty over the district heating system.

Yes. Last winter showed that large energy companies or local authorities, if they own the grid – the pipes that carry heat to homes, they can cope with the crisis. However, where networks have been sold – and local authorities have sold a lot of them, even for low sums, they lose control over the provision of heat to residents and crises emerge.

If the network has been sold to an honest businessman who wants a sustainable heat supply policy, thank goodness. In some cases, however, few but significant, the network has been sold into the wrong hands. This caused very high social tensions in some municipalities in Poland. People were facing the risk of cold radiators. We cannot allow this to happen in future.

A new comprehensive heat law is our goal for the next term. We want to ensure that local authorities have authority over the key element of providing heat to residents. During the winter months, nothing is more important than warm radiators for hospitals, schools, or district aid centres. We have already prepared this and want to implement it.

How should we view our strategic energy infrastructure in the context of the war in Ukraine?

Energy sovereignty, the fourth pillar of Polish energy policy, is already here. This now needs to be translated into reality. We must retain absolute authority as Poland over critical infrastructure.

Also, and this is crucial, we need to protect it carefully. This is controversial, such as in Świnoujście, where there is a need for proper terminal protection.

I have already completed talks with the Czechs, Slovaks, and Hungarians – the countries that do not have access to the sea and are seriously tackling the task of at least securing gas. We support them in this. With access to the sea, we are in a privileged position. We can be a gas hub, but we need to protect this infrastructure.

— recorder by Grzegorz Balawender

How is the nuclear power plant project in Poland progressing? I suppose no one questions it anymore?

There are still some feeble attempts to stop the project, but the voices questioning the need for investment in nuclear power are gone. The subject of nuclear energy has been revived across Europe. Virtually all countries, apart from Germany, rely on nuclear at the base of the energy system.

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