Official approval sought for Poland’s second NPP

23 August 2023

PGE PAK Energia Jadrowa (PPEJ) has submitted an application to Poland's Ministry of Climate & Environment for a decision-in-principle on construction of a NPP consisting of at least two Korean-supplied APR1400 reactors in the Patnów-Konin region of Wielkopolska province in central Poland.

PPEJ is a joint special purpose vehicle set up by Polish public company ZE PAK (Zespól Elektrowni Patnów-Adam-Konin) and Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) – both Treasury owned – to implement the project to construct the NPP in Patnów in central Poland. The plant will comprise two Areactors supplied by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP). The company was established just five months after the letter of intent was signed in Seoul between PGE, ZE PAK and KHNP. PGE and ZE PAK will each own 50% of the shares in PPEJ, which will secure the interest of the Polish Treasury in the project.

This project is developing in parallel with Poland’s official nuclear power programme. Poland has ambitious nuclear power development plans. In September 2021, it was announced that six large pressurised water reactors with a combined installed capacity of 6-9 GWe could be built by 2040 to reduce its reliance on coal. Construction of the first 1.0-1.6 GWe plant was expected to start in 2026 for commissioning in 2033. Subsequent units will be implemented every 2-3 years. In November 2022, the government announced the first plant, with a capacity of 3,750 MWe, would be built in Pomerania using US Westinghouse AP1000 technology. An agreement outlining a plan for delivery of the plant was signed in May by Westinghouse, Bechtel and state-owned Polish utility Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe (PEJ).

In April , PEJ had applied to the Ministry of Climate & Environment for a similar decision for the Westinghouse project and in July the Ministry issued a fundamental decision approving the plan. It formally confirmed that investment in Poland’s first NPP is in the public interest and in line with state energy policy.

PPEJ’s application included a description of project characteristics, indicating the maximum total installed capacity, the planned operating period and details of the APR1400 technology to be used in the construction of the plant. A positive decision will entitle ZE PAK and PGE to apply for a number of further administrative arrangements, such as a siting decision or construction licence.

PGE noted that the application “was submitted after only 10 months from the moment of signing the letter of intent by PGE, ZE PAK and KHNP”.

PPEJ President Jakub Rybicki said: “We believe that in 2035 our nuclear power plant will start operating, which will cover 12% of Poland's current energy demand." He added: “We are starting negotiations with our Korean partner regarding the feasibility study, agreements on financing our project and the creation of a Polish-Korean company that will directly lead this process.”

However, currently KHNP is facing a lawsuit filed by Westinghouse in October 2022 alleging intellectual property infringement. Westinghouse insists that KHNP’s APR1400 nuclear reactor is based on Westinghouse technology. KHNP contests this. “After launching its own nuclear programme, Korea gradually built up technology, carrying out research and development projects with long-term plans for over 30 years. Thanks to this process, it gained competence in the design, production and construction of nuclear power plants in order to finally develop her own, independent technology,” the company said.

In the meantime, however, the lawsuit could be an obstacle to export of the APR1400. “The Westinghouse lawsuit has been dragging for a long time and there’s no guarantee of winning the battle,” said Moon Joo-hyun, an energy engineering professor at Dankook University.

Korea, nevertheless, has ambitions to become a major exporter of nuclear technology. KHNP is also competing with Westinghouse and EDF to supply reactors to the Czech Republic. The Yoon Suk Yeol administration pledged to export 10 nuclear plants by 2030 and export nuclear facilities worth $3.73bn by 2027. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will dispatch 11 commercial attachés this month to promote nuclear plant exports in potential markets such as Egypt, the Netherlands, India, Indonesia and Qatar.

Image: Example of a plant comprising two APR1400 reactors (courtesy of KHNP)

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