Poland Picks Westinghouse to Build Country's First Nuclear Reactors

Poland continues to move forward with its plan to deploy nuclear power, choosing U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. to build the country’s first large-scale nuclear power plant.

The decision, announced late Oct. 28 by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, is seen as a move by Poland to strengthen its relationship with the U.S. and continue moving the country away from its energy dependence on Russia after the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.

Poland also is trying to reduce its use of coal-fired power generation in favor of cleaner fuels. Poland is the European Union’s most coal-dependent country and officials continue to push to improve the country’s air quality by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The country in recent years has made a series of announcements regarding its future deployment of nuclear power, including the use of small modular reactors.

Three Reactors in Initial Deal

Authorities on Friday said Westinghouse will initially build three AP1000 reactors for Poland, with the expectation that at least three more will follow. Westinghouse was chosen for the project in a competition with Electricite de France SA and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co.

Morawiecki said a formal agreement with Westinghouse will be signed on Nov. 2. “Together, we will strengthen our bilateral relationship and Poland’s energy security for generations to come,” Mark Brzezinski, the U.S. ambassador to Poland, said on Twitter.

Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor was first used at the Sanmen nuclear power plant in China, which came online in 2018. Source: Westinghouse Nuclear

Morawiecki on Friday praised Westinghouse for the company’s “reliable, safe technology.” The AP1000 is a pressurized water reactor, noted for its use of passive nuclear safety and other features designed to lower the equipment’s cost. “A strong Poland-U.S. alliance guarantees the success of our joint initiatives,” Morawiecki said.

Vice President Kamala Harris, part of a group of U.S. officials who worked to secure the contract, in a Twitter post wrote, “U.S. partnership on this project is advantageous for us all: we can address the climate crisis, strengthen European energy security, and deepen the U.S.-Poland strategic relationship.”

‘Clear Message to Russia’

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called the decision a “huge step in strengthening our relationship with Poland for future generations to come.” Granholm, speaking at an International Atomic Energy Agency conference in Washington, D.C., said, “This decision on the part of Poland not only strengthens our bilateral relationship with Poland on energy security for generations to come, but I think sends a clear message to Russia that the Atlantic Alliance stands together.”

In a post on Twitter, Granholm wrote, “This announcement also sends a clear message to Russia: We will not let them weaponize energy any longer. The West will stand together against this unprovoked aggression, while also diversifying energy supply chains and bolstering climate cooperation.”

Poland wants the country’s first nuclear power plant to enter service as soon as 2033. Government officials have said the country would eventually like to have 6 GW to 9 GW of nuclear power generation capacity. The first plant, with three reactors, is expected to be built at Choczewo, near the Baltic Sea.

Piotr Mueller, a spokesperson for Poland’s government, said the site in northern Poland will need infrastructure improvements, including road construction. Mueller said environmental approvals and investment details for the project will be announced Wednesday.

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

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