Nuclear energy – reasonable acceleration

Luc Williams

The participants of the debate on nuclear energy during the 16th European Economic Congress in Katowice discussed the schedule of the Polish nuclear project and the challenges related to the construction of the first nuclear power plant.

As Maciej Bando, deputy minister of climate and environment, government plenipotentiary for strategic energy infrastructure, emphasized when opening the discussion, on October 15, the Coalition clearly received a mandate to build new energy in Poland, and this mandate consisted of numerous programs and proposals, above all basing the energy sector in Poland on renewable and nuclear sources.

– Therefore, our goal is to achieve such a mix as quickly as possible, but also as safely as possible – he emphasized.

He also recalled that the nuclear power plant construction project is based on an intergovernmental agreement between the governments of the United States and Poland.

– Westinghouse technology was chosen and we received consent from the European Commission for this choice, which is very important – added Maciej Bando.

The government plenipotentiary for strategic energy infrastructure also pointed to the key date from the investment point of view, which is 2028.

– We hope that all work that is the responsibility of the broadly understood administration will be completed by then. We want, among other things, introduce a preliminary building permit into law in order to speed up the construction process itself and achieve certain stages of obtaining consents and permits from the president of the National Atomic Energy Agency or other state bodies – explained the deputy minister. He also added that after completing this stage, “responsibility for the implementation of the project clearly depends on the investor and the contractor.”

Collaboration is key to deadlines

Maciej Bando emphasized that the construction of a nuclear power plant is the largest infrastructure project in Poland in years.

– This is a long-term and complicated project, but I hope that it will be a new beginning showing that it is possible to build a power plant on time, synchronize it with the grid and, after a few years, declare success by saying that we: Westinghouse, Bechtel and PEJ have completed it for the first time since decades nuclear program on time – he pointed out.

According to Leszek Juchniewicz, acting president of Polish Nuclear Power Plants, where does the belief come from that a nuclear power plant in Poland will be built “faster and better” than in other countries?

– We actually started this project and we do not compete with our contractor, we cooperate with him. The element of cooperation is extremely important in striving to launch the first unit on time, and then the next two units, he said.

The President of PEJ also outlined the issues from his perspective that are most important for the implementation of the nuclear project in Poland. The first one concerns the proper processing of the existing Engineering Services Contract.

– This is a determinant of our later EPC contract, which is actually a turnkey construction. This preceding phase is of fundamental importance because it determines tasks, roles and, above all, harmonizes the nuclear project with the Polish environment, which, of course, has its own specificity, he explained.

He added that the most important thing is the construction of infrastructure accompanying the construction of the nuclear power plant (access road, railway line, marine structure), which is necessary for the contractor – a consortium of Westinghouse and Bechtel – to start carrying out its tasks on time. Leszek Juchniewicz also said that currently it is advisable to exercise moderation, not to compete in giving subsequent dates, but to calmly implement the nuclear project.

There won't be many changes

The first Polish nuclear power plant will be built in the Choczewo commune, where three AP1000 reactors with a total capacity of 3,750 MW will be located. This project is the most advanced nuclear investment in the country, which was the first to obtain not only a principal decision confirming the project's compliance with state policy, but also an environmental and location decision. Field work has also started in Pomerania to prepare the site for in-depth geological research, which will start in May this year. and will lead to obtaining data for the location report needed to obtain a construction permit from the National Atomic Energy Agency.

The perspective of a technology supplier for Poland's first large-scale nuclear power plant was presented by Joel Eacker, vice president for new projects at Westinghouse Electric Company. As he recalled, half of the world's nuclear reactors are based on Westinghouse nuclear technology.

– We believe that we are offering the Polish Nuclear Power Plants company and the Polish government the best available reactor. There are currently six such commercial reactors in operation and eight under construction. The Polish reactor in Choczew will be the fifteenth, recalled Joel Eacker.

He added that the AP1000 reactor is licensed in four countries around the world, including Great Britain, which was a member of the European Union. He also pointed out that Westinghouse does not expect a significant number of changes adapting the technology to Polish conditions, and the modifications that have been made so far in the case of the construction of the AP1000 unit in other countries resulted from specific regulatory requirements and were of an adaptive nature. The vice president for new projects at Westinghouse predicts a similar scenario in Poland.

– If we look at the regulations regarding nuclear energy in the European Union, our reactor design will require minor modifications, we will have to cooperate with the investor and with the National Atomic Energy Agency and regulatory authorities to verify these elements, but these should not be significant changes – said Joel Eacker.

He added: – AP1000 is an internationally accepted reactor design, and the turbine island and other elements of the facility will be designed in accordance with Polish standards and requirements.

Benefits for the economy

Leszek Hołda, president of Bechtel Polska, which together with Westinghouse forms a consortium responsible for the construction of the first Polish nuclear power plant, emphasized that the ambition of Bechtel Polska and Westinghouse is to maximize the participation of Polish companies in the implementation of this project.

– We have tentatively assumed that 50 percent this content was from the Polish market. However, this requires some preparation, because participating in such a project is a challenge, he pointed out.

As the president of Bechtel Polska said, the selection of potential partners to participate in the project is currently underway.

– We have a dedicated website for registering your interest in participating in the project, and this database of companies is growing every day. Today, I can say with satisfaction that almost 500 Polish companies have already registered on this website, he said.

He also thanked the representatives of the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the Chamber of Commerce for Energy and Environmental Protection for good cooperation in organizing training for companies that want to learn the specifics of the nuclear project.

– It is in our common interest that the construction of the first nuclear power plant, in addition to accelerating the Polish energy transformation, would bring economic benefits. We are talking about billions of zlotys that can be invested in the Polish economy. We want to make sure that Polish companies are the beneficiaries of this project, emphasized Leszek Hołda.

The vice president for new projects at Westinghouse also drew attention to the need to involve Polish companies in the ongoing nuclear project.

– We have announced the selection of seven Polish partners who will provide large structural elements of reactor equipment for the project of building a nuclear power plant in Choczew. This choice concerned the structural and mechanical modules of the AP1000 reactor that we will produce here in Poland. Their value ranges from PLN 2.5 billion to PLN 3 billion. We focus not only on supporting the development of the production potential of the Polish industry in the investment and implementation phase of the project, but also on how, in the long term, we can help build competences in the servicing and maintenance of nuclear power plants. More than half of the reactors installed around the world were built under Westinghouse licenses, and we provide maintenance services for most of them, said Joel Eacker.

The construction of six AP1000 nuclear units will have a positive impact on the Polish economy. According to a report prepared by the consulting company PwC, during the construction of nuclear units, Polish GDP will increase by PLN 118.3 billion. At the same time, after launch, the units will generate at least PLN 38 billion of additional value for GDP and maintain 16.3 thousand jobs. jobs per year. Moreover, the investment will contribute to the creation of a highly qualified managerial staff in the nuclear sector through leadership training and partnerships with national universities. The PwC report also shows that after the power plant is launched, 2.4 thousand jobs may be created. direct jobs.

What's next?

The project in Choczew may turn out to be the first of many nuclear investments in Poland. The government is currently working on updating Poland's Energy Policy until 2040, and specifics regarding the target energy mix may appear at the end of this year, as Maciej Bando said.

– I hope that thanks to some reflection on what has happened (so far – editor) and the ability to predict how the market will evolve, we will come to the point that at the end of the year, with the announcement of the update of the state energy policy, we will be able to clearly say how much we will need sources operating in the base in the country, and here I am talking primarily about nuclear energy, how many sources will we need in the mid-range, here I am primarily thinking about gas and how many weather-dependent sources we will need. Solving this equation will allow us to say very clearly – or to announce to investors – that we need “this much” of base power if we are talking about the nuclear program, said the government plenipotentiary for strategic energy infrastructure.

He also recalled that the agreement between the governments of the United States and Poland provides for 6-8 GW (reactor capacity) built in cooperation with Westinghouse. DOWN

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