WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will decide later this year whether to build its first nuclear power plant to lower carbon emissions as part of a plan to reduce dependence on coal in the long term, the country's Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said on Monday.
Poland, which uses polluting coal to generate most of its electricity, plans to lower the share of coal in its energy production to 60 percent in 2030 and around 50 percent in 2050.
"Our energy security is and will be in the long perspective based on coal (...) Here a revolution is impossible, but we are ensuring evolutionary change," Tchorzewski told an industry Powerpoll conference.
It remains unclear, however, what could replace coal in Poland in the coming decades. Tchorzewski is a supporter of a nuclear power plant, but for the project to take off, a government decision is necessary.
Poland's state-run PGE, Poland's biggest power producer, has been responsible for the project.
It was expected to be taken last year, but as works on the financing of the nuclear power plant continue, there seems to be another delay.
"I think that in the nearest future there will be an answer to the challenge which I consider indispensable - whether or not the construction of nuclear power plant units will start," Tchorzewski also said.
"These are the decisions to be taken this year, definitely in the first half of it," he added.
The energy ministry is also looking at possibilities to deploy high temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) in the future.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Lidia Kelly and David Evans)