Poland Moves Forward With Country's First Nuclear Power Plant

Westinghouse and Poland’s Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe (PEJ) have finalized a contract for pre-design work on what would be that country’s first nuclear power plant (NPP).

The agreement announced Feb. 22 moves forward a project that began late last year when Westinghouse was selected by the Polish government to build a nuclear plant using AP1000 reactor technology. The project will be located in Pomerania.

Government officials said the nuclear plant would feature six AP1000 pressurized water reactors, with total generation capacity of 6 GW to 9 GW. The country’s energy plan calls for construction of the plant to begin over the next few years, with the first unit commissioned in 2032 or 2033. Subsequent units would be commissioned after that date, with all six units expected online by 2040.

Poland is exploring nuclear power and renewable energy resources in an effort to reduce carbon emissions from its power generation sector. The country at present gets about 70% of its electricity from stations burning black and brown coal.

Nuclear Power Education

The agreement announced Tuesday primarily concerns protocols to educate the staff necessary for the development of nuclear power in Poland. The contract includes input from the AGH University of Science & Technology in Krakow. Officials said it covers cooperation in the development of nuclear and other technologies needed to support the development of nuclear power in Poland.

“The construction of the first NPP in Poland is a long-term and very complex investment task, said Tomasz Stepien, president of PEJ, the company leading nuclear power projects in Poland. AGH is our natural partner in this project because it is a university that with great success conducts research and education in the field of science, including in fields related to the energy industry.”

“A thorough transformation awaits all Polish energy in the coming years,” said AGH Rector Professor Jerzy Lis. “One of its most important elements will be the training of personnel in the field of nuclear energy. Graduates of this field will in the coming years join the ranks of the most future-oriented and important sectors for Poland, also in terms of the country’s energy security.”

Lis added, “We have been conducting education in this area at AGH for many years. Now, however, we will intensify this with the significant support of experts from this industry.”

Design and Engineering

PEJ in a news release said, “The signed contract makes it possible to commence the first works preceding the design before the conclusion of the very time-consuming process of agreeing [to] the execution contract. This type of solution is a result of lessons learned from other nuclear projects around the world. This will make it possible for the pace and schedule of activities to be maintained.”

Stępień said, “The contract that we are signing is another important milestone of our investment. Thanks to the contract, together with our American partner, we can already start the first engineering works on the power plant.”

Officials from the Polish government, along with representatives of Westinghouse and other energy groups, participated in a contract signing ceremony to support construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant. Source: PEJ

Anna Moskwa, Poland’s minister of Climate and Environment, said, “We have decided to implement and bring about the success of a key project for Poland’s energy security, which is the project to build a nuclear power plant in Poland. The project is being built with a stable, experienced and safe partner, a project that is part of Polish-American cooperation. This agreement makes this project even more possible.”

Patrick Fragman, Westinghouse president and CEO, said, “Today’s agreement is a major step by PEJ that brings Poland closer to implementing the most advanced nuclear technology to ensure energy security and a stable supply of emission-free and affordable electricity. We are all working hard to successively work out more agreements that are so important for Poland and for Poles.”

Other Nuclear Projects

The project in Pomerania is not the only nuclear power plant being considered for Poland. ZE PAK, a Polish private energy group that currently operates coal-fired power plants; Polska Grupa Energetyczna, the state-owned public power company and the largest electricity-producing group in Poland; and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power have signed a letter of intent to cooperate on a nuclear power plant project in Patnow, in central Poland, at the site of a former coal-fired power plant. That project, if built, could feature South Korean-designed APR1400 reactors.

ZE PAK in recent years has been decommissioning several coal-fired units as the company transitions to cleaner forms of energy. ZE PAK is supporting the “Clean Poland Program Association,” an initiative to support renewable energy resources, energy storage, and other technologies, including the use of hydrogen.

Poland’s Industria, a state-owned group and part of the Industrial Development Agency JSC, earlier this month chose small modular reactor (SMR) technology from Rolls-Royce SMR for the Central Hydrogen Cluster project. The hydrogen hub could produce as much as 50,000 tonnes of low-carbon hydrogen annually.

Industry officials said the project could include as many as three SMRs. Rolls-Royce SMR said it foresees “opportunities to replace more than 8 GW of coal-fired power plants in southern Poland with SMRs throughout the 2030s.”

—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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