Poland’s nuclear high-wire act at East-West crossroads

Two of the richest Poles want to develop nuclear power: one with small reactors from the US, and another with large reactors from Russia. Geopolitics will play a part in which project succeeds — if either do.

Polish billionaire Zygmunt Solorz-Zak is considering investing in a Russian nuclear project in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between two European Union neighbors, Poland and Lithuania. This followed an announcement by Polish chemical firm Synthos — which is owned by another billionaire, Michal Solowow — on the development of four small nuclear reactors. Beyond this, the Polish government also has its own nuclear power plans.

Synthos’ plans would not appear until the 2030s at the earliest, while the Baltic Nuclear Power Plant in Kaliningrad (BEJ) could be built by the turn of 2028 and 2029, reported the newspaper Rzeczpospolita. The cost of erecting the four Polish units with a capacity of 4 gigawatt is estimated at 105 billion zlotys (€23 billion), while the cost of BEJ would be approximately 30 billion zlotys.

BEJ originally involved the construction of two reactors with a capacity of at least 1,170 MW each, intended for commissioning in 2016 and 2018. But in 2013, construction of the station was suspended when neighboring states said they would not buy the electricity — because of their attempts to escape the Kremlin’s highly politicized energy strategy.

Russia’s nuclear utility Rosenergoatom (part of Rosatom) in 2019 suspended construction for five years.

Tomasz Matwiejczuk, the press spokesman for Solorz-Zak, confirmed to DW that ZE PAK was preparing to implement projects related to nuclear energy, and that various options were being considered.


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