The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Poland the green light to launch the country’s nuclear power programme. After reviewing Poland’s nuclear energy regulatory framework, the IAEA said it was in line with its safety standards and that the regulatory body is competent and prepared to launch nuclear energy.

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission in Poland took place on 4–15 September 2023 and comprised four IAEA staff members, 15 regulatory experts from 14 countries and one observer from the European Commission. This was the second IRRS mission to Poland, after the first took place in 2013. The mission found that Poland’s governmental, legal and regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety was compliant with IAEA standards.

Mike King, the IRRS team leader, said: “This is a major milestone for Poland, which has been considering a nuclear power programme for many years. The PAA’s (Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency) commitment to safety, as demonstrated throughout this second IRRS mission, is essential to ensuring that any nuclear power plants built in Poland are operated safely and securely.”

Poland will begin building its first nuclear power plant at Lubiatowo- Kopalino in the province of Pomerania in 2026. There will be up to six reactors in two or three locations, with a total generation capacity of 6–9 billion watts of electricity capacity. The power plants are expected to come online in 2040. Poland previously considered obtaining a stake in the planned Visaginas nuclear power plant in Lithuania. Politicians have been deliberating the introduction of nuclear power since 2005, but problems sourcing financing and political wrangling led to regular delays. The latest developments will help the country move away from its reliance on coal, from which it currently derives 69% of its power.

At present, there are 100 nuclear power plants providing 97GWe (gigawatt electrical) within the EU in 12 of the 27 member states. They account for one-quarter of electricity generated in the whole of the EU, but more than half of this output is produced in France. The developments in Poland will add to and diversify the EU’s nuclear power output.

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