Poland has chosen the US government and Westinghouse to build the central European country’s first nuclear power plant, as part of an effort to burn less coal and gain greater energy independence.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Friday evening on Twitter that Poland would use “reliable and safe technology” from the Westinghouse Electric Company for the plant in the province of Pomerania near the Baltic Sea coast. The exact location is yet to be determined.
A strong alliance between Poland and the United States “guarantees the success of our joint initiatives,” Morawiecki said.
Poland plans to spend $40 billion to build two nuclear power plants with three reactors each, with the last to be launched in 2043. The deal with the United States and Westinghouse is for the first three reactors at the Pomerania plant, which, according to officials, are expected to start producing electricity in 2033.
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Poland has for decades planned to build a nuclear power plant to replace its aging coal-fired power plants in a country with some of the worst air pollution in Europe. The construction of a nuclear power plant of Soviet technology began in the early 1980s, when Poland was part of the Eastern bloc.
Protests from residents and environmentalists, the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, and budget shortages led to the project being abandoned.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year and its use of energy to exert economic and political pressure on European nations has heightened the urgency of Poland’s search for alternative energy sources.
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Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said on Saturday the government would adopt a decision at its meeting on Wednesday, which will launch the environmental and investment approval procedures.
Mueller said the nuclear power plant in northern Poland would require improving infrastructure in the region, including roads.
US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the project would create or maintain more than 100,000 jobs for American workers.
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“This is a HUGE step in strengthening our relationship with Poland to create energy security for future generations to come,” Granholm said.
“This announcement also sends a clear message to Russia that we will not let them weaponize energy anymore,” Granholm said. “The West will unite against this unprovoked aggression, while diversifying energy supply chains and strengthening climate cooperation.”
Poland had also considered offers from France and South Korea. Polish State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin has suggested that South Korea could still play a role in the project and further talks are expected in Seoul next week.
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Westinghouse sued in federal court to block a potential deal with rival Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power to sell reactors to Poland.
The United States is one of the most important allies of NATO member Poland. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the United States increased its military presence in the country, creating a permanent presence for the first time and using Poland as a hub to send weapons to Ukraine. .