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US Energy: Poland and U.S. Announce Strategic Partnership to Launch Poland’s Civil Nuclear Program

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U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm welcomed the news that Poland’s Council of Ministers had chosen U.S.-based Westinghouse as the technology provider in the first phase of their estimated $40 billion inaugural civil nuclear project. This represents one of the largest civil nuclear projects ever awarded to U.S. industry and the first since 2007.

Secretary Granholm praised Poland’s decision and thanked the Prime Minister for his efforts to strengthen U.S.–Poland cooperation: “Poland’s announcement signals to the world that our strategic partnership, a linchpin in the Atlantic Alliance, remains unbreakable. Our commitment to Poland’s energy security and sovereignty is steadfast, and we pledge to work together to build a cleaner energy future and economic opportunity for our citizens.”

The Department of Energy (DOE) led U.S. engagement with Poland on civil nuclear energy cooperation under the framework of an Intergovernmental Agreement which entered into force in February 2021, and co-chaired a bilateral Steering Committee created to advance the project. The Committee assembled a team of experts to prepare a final report submitted to the Polish government on the technical and financial components of the final offer which was reviewed and approved by Poland’s Council of Ministers on November 2, 2022. Secretary Granholm has steered the U.S. effort on engagement with Poland and led a “whole-of-government approach” to develop a comprehensive and competitive package for Poland. DOE is currently engaged in another Intergovernmental Agreement with Romania on nuclear energy and seeking opportunities to partner with other countries in similar processes.

This first phase of the project, with Bechtel as a key partner in the proposed U.S. delivery team, envisions the construction of three units at a site in northeastern Poland which will create or sustain 62,500 jobs in the United States during the engineering, procurement, and construction period. In addition, there will be 2,000 jobs created or sustained through the provision of nuclear fuel to each plant. The second phase of three units will also create or sustain 62,500 jobs for a total of 135,000 well-paying jobs in the United States for the entire 6-unit project. These jobs are located in Pennsylvania as well as over 16 states plus the District of Columbia.  

Biden-Harris Administration Commitment to Nuclear Power

The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes that the development of clean, safe, and reliable nuclear power for partners and allies is essential to addressing the challenges and mitigate the consequences of climate change. To this end, President Biden is committed to revitalizing and strengthening the U.S. civil nuclear industry. It is a priority for DOE to support innovative and advanced nuclear energy technology that can deliver reliable and emissions-free energy both in the United States and across the globe. U.S. nuclear technology is best in class and the U.S. industry continues to lead the world in nuclear innovation.

This decision comes at a crucial time for Europe. Russia’s illegal and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has demonstrated the need for European nations to reduce their reliance on Russian energy sources. Poland’s decision to partner with the United States is a key step in ensuring the diversification of its energy supplies and will enhance the country’s energy security. 

Nuclear energy is essential for Poland to reduce CO2 emissions; aside from its lignite resources, Poland is heavily dependent on external sources of energy for electricity production. 70% of the country’s electricity is produced by coal or lignite fired power plants. Poland has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The deployment of safe clean and reliable nuclear power is a critical tool for Poland to meet these climate targets. 

As European nations begin to implement policies to tackle climate change and diversification strategies to reduce reliance on Russian energy sources, DOE is prepared to work with allies and partners in the region seeking to modernize their Soviet-era legacy nuclear fleets and work towards building a clean energy future. The Poland civil nuclear project can serve as a template for future project development in the region. 

The Westinghouse AP1000 design represents the most advanced light water reactor in the world. Westinghouse has a legacy of more than 130 years of innovation and built the first commercial Pressurized Water Reactor in 1957. At present, nearly 50% of the world’s nuclear plants are based on Westinghouse technology. In 2011, the AP1000 technology became the first Gen III+ reactor design to be design-certified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) and has since been reviewed and accepted in the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, and China.

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