Poland wants to avoid financing nuclear power with debt

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland is reluctant to finance the construction of nuclear power stations with debt and hopes to continue talks about the project with the United States, Piotr Naimski, the government official responsible for key energy infrastructure, said on Tuesday.

The energy ministry expects its first nuclear power station to start operating in 2033, it said in a draft to its long-term strategy published in November, which still needs government approval.

“I can say one thing - the financing model should be based on capital and not debt,” Naimski told reporters, adding that he would like the financing structure to be worked out in the coming year.

The energy ministry plan to have a total of 6-9 GW of nuclear power by 2043 surprised analysts and came shortly after U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Poland. Warsaw and Washington signed a declaration on enhanced energy security cooperation, including nuclear power.

“This dialogue will be continued and the issue will be addressed,” Naimski said.

Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski had initially said that Poland wants to finance the power plant project on its own, but Naimski said foreign capital might be necessary because the investment is costly.

Tchorzewski said in March that a nuclear program might cost in the region of 70-75 billion zlotys ($19.94 billion).

Naimski said Poland needs a nuclear power station to be able to maintain stable coal production and meet EU carbon emission targets.

“Hard coal production will remain more or less on the current level. This means that with increased electricity consumption, the amount of power from coal in total energy mix will be falling. In order to keep coal, we need zero-emission sources to meet the standards dictated by the EU climate policy,” Naimski said.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, editing by Ed Osmond