Poland is making progress towards adding nuclear power to its energy mix, including in developing the necessary infrastructure for a safe and sustainable nuclear power programme, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) review mission.

An IAEA team, including three experts from Brazil, the UK and the US, as well as seven IAEA staff reviewed infrastructure development for the Polish Nuclear Power Programme (PNPP). The PNPP was approved in January 2014 by the Polish Council of Ministers. The establishment of nuclear power is an objective of the Energy Policy of Poland until 2040, which sets the framework for energy transition to strengthen energy security and to reduce reliance on coal power plants to meet climate goals. In 2022, the Polish Government announced that the first NPP will comprise three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, with the first unit to be commissioned in 2033.

The Phase 2 Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) was carried out at the invitation of the Government of Poland, and hosted by the Ministry of Climate & Environment. The team reviewed the status of 19 nuclear infrastructure issues using the IAEA evaluation methodology for Phase 2 of the Milestones Approach, which evaluates the readiness of a country to invite bids or negotiate a contract for a first NPP.

Before the Phase 2 INIR mission, Poland prepared a self-evaluation report covering all 19 nuclear power infrastructure issues and submitted the report and supporting documents to the IAEA.

The team identified good practices that would benefit other countries developing nuclear power in the areas of contracting approach, strategic approach to funding, early authorisation of technical support organisations to support the nuclear regulator, engagement with the electrical grid operator, stakeholder involvement and industrial involvement.

“The Polish nuclear power programme was initiated with clear objectives and is progressing towards the construction stage in a structured way,” said mission team leader Mehmet Ceyhan, Technical Lead of the IAEA Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section. “We observed strong and dedicated teams in each of the key organizations that will help to achieve the government’s objectives for the PNPP.”

The team also made recommendations aimed at assisting Poland in making further progress in the development of its nuclear infrastructure and its readiness to build its first NPP. The team highlighted areas where further actions would benefit Poland, including the need to further review its legal and regulatory framework, and finalise the preparatory work required for the contracting and construction stages.

“Poland's cooperation with the IAEA is a long-term collaboration, and the review mission is extremely valuable and beneficial for the implementation and execution of the Polish Nuclear Power Programme. We would like to thank the Agency's experts for their commitment, professionalism and valuable opinions provided during the Phase 2 INIR mission. The conclusions we drew after talks with the Agency's experts will allow us to improve the implementation of the Polish Nuclear Power Programme,” said Miłosz Motyka, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Climate and Environment of Poland.

Based on the outcomes of the INIR mission, the IAEA and Poland will update their Integrated Workplan to continue providing coordinated support in line with the future development of the country's nuclear power programme. In September 2023, Poland had also hosted an IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission, which found that Poland’s nuclear regulatory framework is in line with IAEA safety standards and that its regulatory body is competent and prepared for the launch of the country’s nuclear power programme.

The first INIR mission took place in 2013, as a result of which good practices, existing gaps and actions necessary to remove them were identified. The recommendations and suggestions contained in the INIR mission report were used by Poland to develop the National Action Plan to address the identified shortcomings. In 2016, an INIR-Follow Up complementary mission took place, which found that all recommendations and suggestions arising from the first mission had been implemented.

In December 2022, Poland applied to the IAEA with an official request to conduct an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review for the next phase of the nuclear programme, following the adoption in November 2022 of resolutions of the Council of Ministers regarding the choice of technology for the first Polish NPP.

Image: INIR mission team leader Mehmet Ceyhan (right) presents the preliminary draft report to Milosz Motyka, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Climate and Environment of Poland (courtesy of Ministry of Climate and Environment of Poland)