Coal-powered Poland goes nuclear – POLITICO


WARSAW – Poland is signing a host of nuclear power deals – but not with France.

On Monday, Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin was in Seoul to sign a memorandum of understanding with South Korea, as well as Polish and Korean companies.

“Nuclear energy is safe, clean and green and complements the green transition and renewable energy sources,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a Facebook post on Monday.

Last week, Poland signed an agreement with Westinghouse of the United States to build the country’s first nuclear power plant.

“A strong Polish-American alliance guarantees the success of joint initiatives,” Morawiecki said in a Tweeter Friday.

Left out is France’s EDF, which was in contention for Polish contracts with its American and Korean rivals. This is largely due to the company’s problems building reactors on time and within budget, said Maciej Lipka of Poland’s National Center for Nuclear Research. He said EDF’s projects – Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland – have been delayed even beyond the usual problems with investments of this size.

“EDF regrets that the initial offer, based 100% on European EPR technology, was not discussed for the first site,” the French company said in a statement reported by Polish media.

In contrast, Lipka said: “Westinghouse’s general contractor, Bechtel – who will also be working in Poland – has been effective in securing the US Vogtle 3 and Vogtle 4 projects. [in the state of Georgia] out of sync problem effectively.

Korea’s KHNP has reportedly offered to build six APR1400 reactors with a capacity of 8.4 gigawatts for $26.7 billion. Westinghouse wanted $31.3 billion for six AP1000 reactors with a total capacity of 6.7 GW, while EDF’s bid last year for its EPR technology was $33-48.5 billion for four to six reactors.

After the signings, one power station will be built by Westinghouse under the Polish government and one by Poland’s ZE PAK and utility PGE with KHNP.

“We are going to build two nuclear power plants at the same time, one under the government program and the other under a company-led program,” Sasin said. Told Polish radio.

These agreements represent a huge change for Poland, which is one of the few central European countries without reactors. There were plans to build a Soviet-designed nuclear power plant in the 1980s, but the country ran out of money. For decades, governments left and right have talked about building reactors, but the plans never came to fruition.

Instead, Poland continues to rely on coal for around 70% of its electricity, putting it at odds with EU climate goals and becoming increasingly expensive due to rising system prices. EU emissions trading system. Banks are also reluctant to lend for coal-fired power, forcing Poland to cancel a major coal-fired power plant in 2020.

The need to accelerate the energy transition was underscored by the war in Ukraine, with Russia cutting off gas supplies to Poland and Poland banning the import of Russian coal.

Under Poland’s official energy program, the country plans to have up to 9 MW of nuclear capacity by 2040 generating more than a third of its electricity; the first reactor is expected to be commissioned by 2033.

“It’s a very tight schedule,” Lipka said.

The lucrative nuclear deals have sparked a fierce lobbying war.

EDF published paid articles in the Polish press last week, saying: “Unlike its competitors, EDF is currently building nuclear power plants in Europe.”

But the close security relationship between Poland and the United States – something that was strengthened following the Russian invasion of Ukraine – proved decisive. The Polish Air Force is equipped with American and Warsaw F-16 fighters sign an agreement in July to buy 250 Abrams tanks.

“The choice of US technology is not surprising as the recently published environmental report for the Kopalino-Lubiatowo site was entirely based on the parameters of the AP1000, a Westinghouse reactor technology,” said Adam Błażowski of Fota4Climate, a pro-nuclear climate and environmental organization. foundation.

Warsaw has also forged closer security ties with South Korea, signature an agreement for the purchase of 48 FA-50 combat aircraft, K9 self-propelled howitzers and at least 180 K2 Black Panther tanks.

“I am glad that after the recently signed contracts for the purchase of equipment for the Polish army, our cooperation with South Korea is expanding to other areas,” Morawiecki said in his message.

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