by Staff Writers
Warsaw (AFP) Oct 25, 2012
Poland is firmly committed to developing both nuclear energy and shale gas exploration, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday.
"For the Polish government, nuclear power and of course investments in shale gas, remain priorities. Nothing has changed where this is concerned," Tusk told Poland's TVN24 news channel.
"We'll be continuing the nuclear programme and working on developing shale gas very intensively," he said.
The comment came a day after the chief executive of a top Polish utility involved in both ventures said Warsaw would have to choose between one energy source or the other.
Krzysztof Kilian, head of the state-owned PGE -- Poland's largest energy utility -- insisted "one rules out the other."
A nation of 38.2 million people, Poland currently relies on its vast coal reserves to produce about 90 percent of its electricity.
But Warsaw is scrambling to find alternatives to meet EU targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Last month, four leading Polish companies led by PGE joined forces to work on plans for a three gigawatt nuclear energy plant.
And in an earlier bid to diversify Poland's energy mix, in June the same four Polish firms joined Polish oil and gas giant PGNiG in a joint venture to tap the country's shale gas reserves.
Poland is believed to have up to 1.92 trillion cubic metres (67.8 trillion cubic feet) of exploitable shale gas deposits, possibly the third biggest reserves in Europe behind Norway and the Netherlands, a recent state study found.
The government also believes that tapping its own shale gas deposits could assure strategic energy independence from Soviet-era master Moscow.
But on Wednesday Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski told parliament that for now Poland would focus on meeting its energy needs with fossil fuels.
A final decision on building the country's first nuclear power plant is expected "in late 2014 or in early 2015," he said.
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