New Build

Poland / Government Confirms Westinghouse Selected To Build First Nuclear Station

By Kamen Kraev
3 November 2022

Construction of first reactor to begin in 2026
Government Confirms Westinghouse Selected To Build First Nuclear Station
On 2 November, the Polish prime-minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced a long-awaited decision on the nuclear technology provider for the country's first nuclear power station. Image courtesy Office of the Polish Prime-Minister.
The Polish cabinet officially confirmed in a resolution yesterday the selection of US-based Westinghouse Electric Company for the construction of the country’s first nuclear power station near its Baltic Sea coastline.

Polish climate and environment minister Anna Moskwa told a press briefing that three Westinghouse-made AP1000 pressurised water reactor units will be deployed at the Lubiatowo-Kopalino site in the northern province of Pomerania (Pomorze).

The first unit is scheduled to be online in 2033 as set in Warsaw’s 2020 nuclear energy programme while the start of construction is earmarked for 2026.

“Poland has never been so close to building a nuclear power plant as it is today,” Ms Moskwa said and added that “the decision to confirm a strategic partnership with the US brings us closer to the implementation of this project.”

Last week Polish prime-minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Twitter the selection of Westinghouse for Warsaw’s first nuclear project over France’s EDF and South Korea’s KHNP, which were also in the running.

Mr Morawiecki told journalists yesterday that Poland’s first nuclear station would cost about $20bn (€20.5bn) according to government estimates, but remained tight-lipped on the sources of financing.

Westinghouse welcomed the government’s decision in a separate statement and said it considers engaging on a broad scale both the US and European supply chains on the project in an effort to build a fleet of AP1000 reactors in the region.

“This project will create thousands of jobs during construction and for many decades of operation of the plants,” said Patrick Fragman, chief executive officer of Westinghouse.

The company said it remains committed to establishing a major engineering centre in Poland and is planning various additional industrial investments to support the development of the country’s nuclear power expertise and workforce.

Poland’s Nuclear Programme

Under a 2020 nuclear programme, Poland has ambitious plans to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear with commercial operation of a first nuclear unit in a proposed set of six is planned for 2033, with the rest to follow throughout the 2030s and into the early 2040s.

According to the Polish cabinet’s resolution, the technology provider for a proposed second nuclear power station under the programme has not been selected “at this stage”, but the project's preparation needs to be acclerated.

Minister Moskwa said Warsaw remains “open” to cooperation with the European and global nuclear industries for the deployment of a second nuclear power plant in the country despite selecting Westinghouse for the construction of a first nuclear power station.

Earlier this week Polish energy companies ZE PAK and PGE signed a letter of intent with South Korea’s KHNP for the proposed construction of a third nuclear power station at the Patnow site in central Poland – a project described as one to be developed by “private business” and not run by the government.

Prime-minister Morawiecki told the press briefing yesterday that the government is “open” to the project. However, it was not mentioned in the cabinet’s resolution on the construction of large-scale nuclear in Poland.

In terms of financing, Poland wants to 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”.

Last year, Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe was registered as a company owned entirely by the Polish state treasury and charged with preparing the nuclear new-build projects.

In September, the US presented the Polish government with a concept execution report on the nuclear project which indicated potential sources of financing, including the involvement of US government institutions like the US Export-Import Bank and the US International Development Finance Corporation, and possibly equity capital by Westinghouse and its partner Bechtel.

In June, Westinghouse and Bechtel completed a front-end engineering and design (Feed) study which provided layout plans for the first nuclear power station at Lubiatowo-Kopalino, a strategic licensing plan, a project schedule, and a cost estimate for delivery, construction and startup of the first power plant.

Energy Security And Geopolitics

According to the Polish cabinet, nuclear power is expected to bring “fundamental diversification” of the country's energy mix, while ensuring optimal domestic production capacities.

A statement by the cabinet said nuclear will be used to replace the currently dominant carbon-based generation capacities, while meeting the growing electricity demand and securing grid stability in support of the deployment renewable energy.

Nuclear is also expected to limit the role of natural gas as a transition fuel, said the statement.

Minister Moskwa said that Poland’s partnership with the US in nuclear energy is a “clear confirmation” of the countries’ “strategic approach” to the sovereignty and the energy security of Poland and the entire Central and Eastern Europe.

According to prime-minister Morawiecki, Poland “must work with tried and tested partners” in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The US government welcomed the selection of Westinghouse and its technology for Poland’s first nuclear plants.

“This agreement will ensure a decades-long strategic energy partnership between the US and Poland and is a watershed moment in advancing European energy security,” said a statement by US secretary of state Antony Blinken.

“Through close collaboration, the US and Polish governments developed innovative joint financing and technical solutions to address Polish clean energy needs and ensure the financial viability of the project,” Mr Blinken said.

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