Dirtier fossil fuels are starting to fade into the background of the energy mix.
In the U.S., natural gas is a force to be reckoned with, as the shale boom provides an abundance of a cleaner-burning fuel. It was largely responsible for a 20-year low for U.S. carbon emissions this year.
Some have called the shale oil and gas boom the road to energy independence – hope that the U.S. can one day be freed from its ties to OPEC.
Across the ocean, Poland is hoping for energy independence too. The Eastern European nation still relies heavily on Russia for energy, but it's looking for ways to loosen that hold.
And though the nation recently discovered it, too, has shale oil prospects, it's focusing on a different – and cleaner – source of energy.
Poland is building its first nuclear power plant, a 3GW plant, which it plans to have online by 2023.
PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna SA (PINK: PGPKY), the nation's largest state-controlled utility, is the manager of the project, which will be worth an estimated $9 billion to $15 billion.
It has enlisted the help of Tauron Polska Energia SA and Enea SA, two other state-owned utilities, as well as copper miner KGHM Polska Miedz SA (PINK: KGHPF), to contribute to project funding.
From the Wall Street Journal:
In July, five state-controlled Polish firms agreed to join forces to step up exploration for shale gas in northern Poland. “We want to deploy a similar model for the preparations for the construction of the nuclear power plant,” [Treasury Minister] Mr. [Mikolaj] Budzanowski said in an interview with Polish broadcaster TVN CNBC. “We need nuclear in our energy mix.”
Budzanowski expects a solid agreement for the joint venture by 2013, which would then give the project ten years to get underway.
But Poland's nuclear prospects won't stop there. By 2030, officials have said, the nation hopes to double the initial 3GW capacity.
Though Polish officials and company officials have not shown any indication that other companies may become involved, Russian state energy company Rosatom has expressed interest in the project.
From Polskie Radio:
“Rosatom wants to participate in the tender for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Poland,” Sergei Boyarkin, engineering projects manager at Rosatom, told the Polish Press Agency.
Boyarkin revealed his hopes at the XX Economic Forum in Krynica, southern Poland.
“If Poland launches a tender, we are ready to present our offer, but we are waiting for the conditions of the tender,” Boyarkin said.
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Boyarkin also said his company would allow Poland to purchase its nuclear energy, forgetting about or disregarding the nation's intent to lessen dependence on Russia.
Other companies, including GE Hitachi, Areva (EPA: AREV), and Westinghouse have also expressed interest in the project.
Officials have yet to decide on a location for the Polish nuclear plant, though three prospective locations include Mielno, Zarnowiec, and Choczewo.
The project has already been subject to several delays in getting the plans off the ground due to environmental opposition. The fallout from the Fukushima reactor meltdown has heightened protests against nuclear projects.
Budzanowski has indicated that additional security measures and studies will be necessary before the project is able to launch.
That's all for now,
Energy & Capital's modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends. For more on Brianna, see her editor's page.