Westinghouse seeks participation in Poland’s nuclear programme

18 March 2021

US-based Westinghouse Electric Company said on 15 March that it intends to invest in nuclear technologies in Poland following a meeting in Warsaw between Westinghouse CEO, Patrick Fragman, and Poland’s Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister and Plenipotentiary for Strategic Energy Infrastructure, Piotr Naimski. The meeting followed an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed between Poland and the USA in October 2020 on cooperation for the implementation of the nuclear energy programme, which includes a plan to transfer technology from the USA and to develop a comprehensive investment scheme with participation of US entities. The agreement entered into force in February.

According to Poland’s recently adopted Energy Policy 2040 (PEP 2040), the government aims to build 6-9 GW of electricity from generation III or III+ pressurized water reactors by 2043 to replace retired coal-fired capacity. Westinghouse said its AP1000 nuclear power plant “offers the highest safety and operability”. If selected as the nuclear power partner, Westinghouse will “source and develop a nuclear supply chain estimated to create more than 2,000 jobs in Poland, ensuring the highest quality of components, expertise, and accountability”. These wider investment plans were discussed during the meeting between Fragman and Grzegorz Slomkowski, Board Member of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency.

Naimski confirmed that the meeting was related to implementation of the Polish-American intergovernmental agreement, “which provides for the preparation of a proposal for the Polish government”. He added: “Westinghouse is preparing the technical part of this offer and has 12 months to do so." This should include a proposal for the financing structure of the Polish nuclear project, assuming the construction of six nuclear reactors in Poland. “The result of this work will be the basis for the Polish government to decide on the possible choice of technology," he said.

Naimski noted that Westinghouse's work on the offer is financed by the US Trade and Development Agency. The works are to cost $10 million. and according to the intergovernmental agreement, they are to be covered by the USA, which expressed its "keen interest" in facilitating the use of EXIM Bank and available US financial institutions to support the overall financing of the Polish Nuclear Power Programme.

The parties to the agreement also recognised that the "US expertise" offered under the agreement will be "most effective" if US entities are the prime supplier of nuclear reactor technology and the prime contractor for the EPC. There is also a provision that Poland should seek the approval of the European Commission so that the financing of the project and the selection of the technology supplier and the main contractor do not have to proceed "in an open market procedure".

The Polish government expects that the partner in the nuclear programme will also take up 49% of shares in a special company, will provide adequate financing and will participate not only in the construction but also in the operation of the nuclear power plants.

Power utility PGE EJ1 is responsible for the preparation of the investment process. Currently, 70 percent. shares in PGE EJ1 is owned by PGE, and 10 percent each by Enea, KGHM and Tauron. The State Treasury and the owners of PGE EJ1 signed a letter of intent regarding the purchase by the state of 100% of the shares in the company by the end of 2020.

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