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Policy schedule sees first unit online by 2033 Warsaw wants to have its first reactor unit running in 2033, with construction starting in 2026. Image courtesy Creative Commons. Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has announced that US-based Westinghouse Electric Company has been selected to build the country’s first nuclear power station, a decision pending since 2020 when Warsaw last updated its nuclear energy pgrogramme.

Mr Morawiecki announced the development on Twitter saying an official cabinet resolution is to be expected on Wednesday this week.

“After talks with vice-president [Kamala] Harris and US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm we confirm our nuclear energy project will use the reliable, safe technology of Westinghouse Electric”, Mr Morawiecki’s tweet said.

There have not been official statements as of yet, but secretary Granholm and vice-president Harris confirmed the news on their respective social media channels.

Ms Granholm said Warsaw’s decision is a “huge step” towards strengthening the relationship between the US and Poland and creating energy security for future generations.

Poland has ambitious plans to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity based on Generation III and III+ large-scale, pressurised water reactor designs. 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.

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According to earlier reports, plans have called for the construction of two nuclear power stations with three reactors each.

At the end of 2021, the Lubiatowo-Kopalino site in the northern province of Pomerania near the Baltic coast was selected as the preferred location for Poland’s first commercial nuclear power station.

Other proposed locations have included the central Belchatow and Patnow, both currently homes to coal-fired power generation. However, no actual siting procedures have been started at any secondary proposed site to date.

In July 2021, Westinghouse and US partner Bechtel provided Poland’s state-owned Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe (PEJ) with a front-end engineering and design study for the deployment of two nuclear power stations, each consisting of three AP1000 pressurised water reactor (PWR) units.

The AP1000 is a Generation III PWR, with four units operating commercially at two sites in China, and another two approaching completion at Vogtle in the US.

Last month, the US ambassador to Poland presented the Polish government with a final conceptual offer on the proposed construction of six Westinghouse-made PWRs, including financing aspects.

An unnamed US official, however, told Reuters this week that the recent announcement by Polish prime-minister Morawiecki concerns the first three nuclear units to be built.

“It is our expectation that Poland intends to eventually construct six AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse and will make a formal decision about the second set of three at a later date," the official said.

Apart from Westinghouse, there are two other companies in the running for the project: France’s state-owned power company EDF and South Korea’s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP).

In October 2021, EDF submitted a non-binding preliminary offer to the Polish government for the provision of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for four to six EPR reactors.

In April, KHNP submitted a non-binding offer for six plants using its APR-1400 reactor technology.

Reports from earlier today said leading Polish energy firms ZE PAK and PGE have signed a letter of intent with KHNP for the construction of a nuclear power station at Patnow, a coal-fired power plant owned by ZE PAK.

However, it remains unclear at this stage to what extent the agreement is part of the framework of the Polish nuclear programme. Polish media had mostly circulated Belchatow as a possible location for Poland’s second nuclear station, but official details are lacking.

Date: Tuesday, 01 November 2022
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