In a virtual ceremony held in Warsaw and Washington, US energy secretary Dan Brouillette and Polish secretary of state for strategic energy infrastructure Piotr Naimski finalised the agreement, which had been in the making for a number of years.
It is the second major nuclear agreement the US has signed this month. Last week, Washington signed a draft cooperation agreement with Romania for the refurbishment of one nuclear power reactor and the construction of two more at the Cernavodă nuclear power station. The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding for the financing of the Cernavodă project.
According to the US Department of Energy, the agreement with Poland stipulates that over the next 18 months, the US and Poland will work together on a report delivering “a design for implementing” Poland’s nuclear energy programme and “potential financing arrangements”.
The DOE said this would be the basis for US long-term involvement and for the Polish government to take a final decision on speeding up the construction of nuclear power plants.
The DOE said the agreement also covers other areas of cooperation “for decades to come”, including development of businesses, regulatory framework, research and training, supply chains, raising public awareness, and joint cooperation on projects in Europe.
Mr Brouillette said nuclear will provide “clean and reliable supply of electricity” to Poland and will boost the country’s energy diversity and security.
He said: “The Trump administration believes the key to energy security is energy diversity – a diversity of fuels, sources, and routes […] The next generation of nuclear energy must be a part of the energy security conversation with our allies in Europe and around the world.”
According to Mr Naimski, Poland sees the cooperation in a wider context, focusing on “geopolitical security, long-term economic growth, technological advancement, and development of a new industrial sector in Poland”.
Poland wants to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity based on proven, large-scale, pressurised water nuclear reactors of the Generation III and III+ design.
Last month, in an update of its energy strategy by 2040, the country confirmed plans to spend $40bn (€34bn) to realise the new-build plans.
Reuters reported yesterday an unnamed White House official as saying that Washington sees Poland buying at least $18bn in nuclear technology from US companies.
US-based Westinghouse, Bechtel, Southern Company, and the US government would participate in an initial engineering study for planned plants under the new cooperation agreement, the official told Reuters.
The Polish nuclear programme sets a timetable under which Poland could sign a general contract for its first unit in 2022 and issue a construction permit in 2025. Construction of Unit 1 would begin in 2026. The first of six plants would begin commercial operation in 2033 with the second in 2035, the third in 2037, the fourth in 2039, the fifth in 2041 and the sixth in 2043.
The Polish state will initially have 100% of shares in a company set up to invest in nuclear energy, but once a co-investor is chosen the state will maintain 51% of shares in the company and the co-investor will take 49%. The co-investor must be “related to the technology provider”.
In August 2020, Polish president Andrzej Duda met his US counterpart Donald Trump in Washington where the two discussed nuclear energy cooperation among other bilateral topics.