Poland’s abundant coal-fired power is often the only thing keeping Germany’s lights on when ‘dunkelflaute’ – gloomy, windless weather – strikes. The ever-pragmatic Poles are likely to keep their coal-fired plants running for generations to come. But, keen to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas, Poland is developing a plan to build new-generation nuclear plants – with the help of a $4 billion injection of funds from America’s Export-Import Bank and International Development Finance Corporation.
Putin’s Ukrainian adventure has managed to focus attention on having safe, reliable and affordable energy on tap, across Europe – Poland, no exception.
Monica Scislowska reports on Poland’s move to tap into a new nuclear-powered future.
US ready to lend Poland $4 billion for nuclear energy plan
17 April 2023
WARSAW, Poland — A project to develop small nuclear power reactors in Poland is moving forward, with Polish energy company Orlen and two U.S. government financial institutions signing an agreement Monday.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has accelerated Poland’s drive to cut its dependence on Russian oil and natural gas.
In a ceremony at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Warsaw, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and U.S. International Development Finance Corporation signed letters of interest to lend up to $3 billion and up to $1 billion, respectively, to the Orlen Synthos Green Energy project. Its aim is to develop around 20 small BWRX-300 modular reactors designed by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.
U.S. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski stressed that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine almost 14 months ago reinforced the need to turn toward safe and reliable energy sources.
Later, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a news conference that the country needed a “cheap, clean and reliable energy source” like the small nuclear reactors that will produce emission-free energy and be a driving force for the economy for decades to come.
Coal mining is among Poland’s largest employers, providing around 80,000 jobs and supplying about 70% of the country’s energy, and Morawiecki said the industry will continue to guarantee power security.
Orlen CEO Daniel Obajtek told The Associated Press that only nuclear power can guarantee energy security and keep the lights on when the wind isn’t blowing or sun isn’t shining.
He said the support of the U.S. financial institutions “shows the credibility of the process” of developing nuclear energy.
It comes after Germany shut down its last three nuclear power plants this past weekend as it claims to be able to transition to renewable energy like wind and solar, which has drawn skepticism at home and abroad.
Poland’s first BWRX-300 reactor should launch in 2029 and will be the world’s second, after a similar one opens in Darlington, Canada.
Synthos Green Energy owner and Polish billionaire Michal Solowow, Obajtek’s business partner in the project, calls it an “energy revolution” for the country.
Last year, Orlen drew criticism for expanding and acquiring Polish fuels company Lotos and gas firm PGNiG under one label, making it the biggest energy operation in Central and Eastern Europe. It also has a refinery in Lithuania and fuel stations in Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Obajtek defended the move, saying it gave the company greater potential and resilience in changing or unfavorable economic conditions.
“A multi-energy company is more stable in an unfavorable environment in all sorts of challenges in the economy,” he said in his spacious Warsaw office.
The company plans to expand further, Obajtek said, but refused to divulge the details.
He said at a news conference earlier that “there is no stopping of energy transformation” and that the oil and gas company — 49.9% owned by the Polish state — is planning 320 billion zlotys ($75 billion) of investments.
Orlen’s oil comes from Saudi Arabia, the North Sea, west Africa and from the U.S.
Obajtek said the deal with Saudi Aramco, which obtained a 30% stake in a refinery in Gdansk, secured joint development of new technologies and “stable deliveries (of the required quality of oil from) a stable partner who is the biggest oil producer in the world.”
In February, Poland’s government and the U.S. Westinghouse Electric Company signed a deal for pre-design cooperation on the central European nation’s first large nuclear power plant, using the American company’s technology. Construction is to begin in 2026, and it aims to start supplying the energy grid in 2032.
via STOP THESE THINGS
May 15, 2023 at 02:31AM