CASE STUDIES > Poland’s First-Ever Nuclear Power Project
Poland’s First-Ever Nuclear Power Project

As more governments around the world focus on the issues of decarbonization and energy security, increasingly they are turning to nuclear energy as the solution to address both. Countries that previously have not hosted nuclear plants are developing, at speed, the regulatory framework and infrastructure to join the family of nations utilizing peaceful nuclear energy.

The Polish government announced on Nov. 2, 2022, that it selected the Westinghouse AP1000® reactor for its first-ever nuclear energy project, to be located at the Lubiatowo-Kopalino site in northern Poland. The AP1000 reactor is the world’s first proven Generation III+ pressurized water reactor with state-of-the-art passive safety systems pioneered by Westinghouse.

Since the initial announcement, Westinghouse has joined with nuclear constructor Bechtel on the project to deliver the AP1000 reactors to Polish utility Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe (PEJ). In September of this year, the three parties signed the Engineering Services Contract, which will include finalizing a site-specific design for three Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear islands; Turbine Island and Balance of Plant design work; and support for PEJ to prepare license application materials, training programs, and operations and maintenance procedures. The work outlined in the 18-month contract has begun.

The first AP1000 reactor in Poland is scheduled to be

operational in 2033.

The more than 1,100 MWe produced by each AP1000 reactor is capable of powering 750,000 homes and avoiding 7 million metric tons of CO2. Poland has long been reliant on fossil fuels and electricity produced from coal, standing at approximately 70% of the country’s energy mix as of October 2022, according to Polish energy sources.

In addition to cleaner air, the project will bring tremendous economic benefits to Poland and the region. Westinghouse and Bechtel have signed dozens of MOUs with Polish and regional suppliers to provide goods and services in support of the project. The project is expected to create more than 10,000 direct Polish jobs over the next 15 years and more than 1,500 long- term jobs through the operating life of the reactors.

Westinghouse is already working with local universities to help develop a talent pipeline through summer internships at Westinghouse locations in the U.S. This program has led directly to Westinghouse hiring many talented graduates who will contribute to the project at Lubiatowo-Kopalino, and elsewhere.

The supply chain is absolutely essential to being successful with large nuclear energy projects, and it must be in place as early as possible to ensure there are no schedule issues due to breaks in the chain or missing links.
David Durham
Energy Systems President, Westinghouse
David Durham,
Energy Systems President, Westinghouse

How has Westinghouse approached working with a country that previously has not had nuclear energy resources?

Westinghouse has a long history of working with countries that are new to nuclear energy, and those with established nuclear industries. Before we opened Shippingport (PA) in 1957, the U.S. did not have a commercial nuclear energy industry. So, Westinghouse was there at the very beginning and one can look at other countries around the world to see that we have been integral to providing the reactor technology or the support services to establish or grow nuclear programs. France is a great example, as is Sweden, to name just two, but there are others. Westinghouse technology is now used in nearly half of the world’s operating nuclear reactors. We have the experience with reactors, but also with fabricating world-class nuclear fuel, operating plant services and environmental, or decommissioning, services.

Because of that breadth of knowledge, it made sense for Poland to choose our AP1000 technology for their first-ever nuclear energy program. We currently have five AP1000 reactors operating in China and the U.S., with a sixth set to enter commercial operation in early 2024 at Vogtle in Georgia. We have six more under construction right now in China and as many as four more selected and moving through various stages of development.

Countries that are developing new nuclear programs will find an easier path, though it’s still not easy, if they choose a proven technology that has been licensed, constructed and is operating in the real-world. The next AP1000 reactor to enter commercial operation will be the 13th of a kind.

We are working closely with our customer in Poland, Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe, on building not only the resource itself, but all the other necessary pieces that go into a successful nuclear program, including licensing and training programs for the workers, procedures, operations. Poland is making excellent progress on standing up its nuclear regulatory agency and institutional infrastructure.

Poland has been a tremendous partner throughout this process as has the U.S. government, which has been extremely supportive from the start.

Besides the clean, safe, reliable electricity from nuclear energy, this program is strengthening the bond we have shared with Poland and will ensure that it continues for another century.

What role will the supply chain play in a successful project in Poland?

The supply chain is absolutely essential to being successful with large nuclear energy projects, and it must be in place as early as possible to ensure there are no schedule issues due to breaks in the chain or missing links.

In the U.S., at the Vogtle project (in Georgia), this was one of the key lessons-learned for the development of the AP1000 reactor. The U.S. hadn’t built a new reactor from scratch in decades before we started at Vogtle, which meant a new supply chain had to be developed, vendors identified and vetted, pretty much everything, for the large components. We had a supply chain for operating plants, which we service, but not for a nuclear steam supply system. Vendors need to establish quality assurance programs, hire and train workers, it was a big lift.

Now, that supply chain is developed for the major components that will be used in future AP1000 reactors. We’ve been through the testing, we’ve been through the qualifications, we’ve been through the delivery process. That’s a great benefit for Poland and other future AP1000 customers.

So now we are beginning to use our experience developing the AP1000 supply chain with vendors in Poland and throughout the region, which is making for a very efficient process. We have signed MOUs with dozens of Polish suppliers to potentially help with mechanical modules, large structural modules and

pipes, pumps and valves. We have a mantra, “buy where we build,” and we think it’s incredibly important.

The other important aspect for a supply chain is to have a 100% complete design of your reactor, which we have with the AP1000 technology. The reactors we deploy in Poland will be the same design as the reactors at Vogtle with minor modifications, such as the cooling system, for instance. The Poland site will be once-through, Vogtle has cooling towers.

Having the benefits of fleet experience on new build reactors, in a country that is new to nuclear energy, will help us be very successful and that is what we want for our customer.

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