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Poland Has Bet on the Atom in More Ways Than One

The issue of atomic energy for Poland is accelerating. Three major players – reactors manufacturers - were fighting for the contract to build Poland's first power plant. The showdown between them was as if modeled on the Game of Thrones intrigues.

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Cooling towers of nuclear power plant against the blue sky
Cooling towers of nuclear power plant against the blue sky. Photo: iStock.com / Wlad74

The global energy crisis has lit a fire under Polish authorities, reigniting the push to build a nuclear power plant, which had been put off for decades. And, as the saying goes, if you are going to do something, do it well. As a result, Poland will have not one but at least two nuclear power plants. There are also rumors of a third.

Three reactors for Poland

Three companies have indicated their willingness to build the first Polish reactors.

  • American Westinghouse,
  • South Korea’s KHNP,
  • France’s EDF.

Each of the operators proposed slightly different solutions for Poland in terms of the types of reactors used in future power plants. There were three proposals on the table in the proceedings:

Westinghouse AP1000

3rd gen. pressurized water reactor with improved use of passive nuclear safety, designed to be cost-effective. It is characterized by modularity and the number of components, which is reduced nearly by half compared to other 3rd gen reactors. There are currently 4 AP-1000 reactors in operation in the world (China), and two are under construction.

KHNP APR1400

An advanced light water reactor with increased fuel capacity, lifespan, and safety. There are 4 APR1400s in operation worldwide, with three more under construction.

EDF EPR (European Pressurized Reactor)

3rd gen. pressurized water reactor. There are currently three reactors of this type under construction in Finland and France, and the only two working reactors are in China.

Which reactor did Poland choose?

Such an important decision as choosing a contractor for a nuclear power plant, a strategic national resource, depends on many factors and should be placed in a broader context. Alliances also count. It is no secret that Poland’s strategic ally is the US. However, South Korea is also rising to this rank due to the recently concluded massive contracts for the supply of armaments to the Polish army. In fact, we have witnessed a fierce rivalry between the US and Korean suppliers. The issue has rubbed off on licensing lawsuits against the Koreans.

Poland shares the nuclear cake

In the end, the Polish side chose Westinghouse as a technological partner for the construction of the first reactor, which should not be taken as a surprise. On November 3, the Polish government passed a relevant resolution. The first nuclear power plant in Poland will be built by 2033. Construction is to begin in 2026, and the plant will be located in the Pomeranian commune of Choczewo, in the area of Lubiatowo-Kopalino, interestingly, not far from Żarnowiec, where decades ago construction of a Soviet-type reactor began (construction was never completed).

The surprise (and some consternation on the part of the Americans) was the signing of a letter of intent on future nuclear investment in Korea. The Korean corporation KNHP and Polish companies ZE PAK and PGE signed the document. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Assets Jacek Sasin and Korean Minister of Trade and Industry and Energy Lee Chang-Yang pledged support for this commercial investment by also signing the relevant document.

Cash, development, and jobs

The first stage of investment in Pomerania should close at $20 billion. It is estimated that Polish nuclear power plants will cover 38% of the country’s electricity needs predicted for 2043, increase GDP, and bring thousands of new jobs. PWR reactors, over their entire life cycle, could generate as many as 24,400-39,600 new jobs, in addition to providing a cheap and stable electricity supply.

Jakub Warzecha

Creative copywriter, archaeologist. Interested in history, technology and military matters. Specializes in marketing communications and application architecture design.

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