WARSAW: Poland says it has chosen the U.S. government and Westinghouse to build its first nuclear power plant, announcing an important step in its efforts to burn less coal and gain greater energy independence.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said late Friday that Poland's nuclear energy project will use the "reliable, safe technology" of Westinghouse Electric Company, saying a strong Poland-U.S. alliance "guarantees the success of our joint initiatives."
Poland has been planning for many years to build a nuclear power plant to gain greater energy independence and replace ageing coal plants in a country with some of the worst levels of air pollution in Europe. Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and its use of energy as a tool amid a larger standoff with the West, have added greater importance to Poland's search for energy alternatives.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the $40 billion project would create or sustain more than 100,000 jobs for American workers. "This is a HUGE step in strengthening our relationship with Poland to create energy security for future generations to come. We are excited to continue this partnership to drive forward a clean energy transition with our counterparts in Europe," Granholm tweeted.
"This announcement also sends a clear message to Russia: We will not let them weaponize energy any longer," Granholm said. "The West will stand together against this unprovoked aggression, while also diversifying energy supply chains and bolstering climate cooperation."
The deal is for the first three reactors of a nuclear power plant that is to be built in northern Poland, with officials saying it should start producing electricity in 2033. Poland had also considered offers from France and South Korea.
The United States is one of the most important allies of NATO-member Poland. After Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, it increased its military presence in the country, creating a permanent presence for the first time, and using Poland as a hub for sending weapons to Ukraine.
State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin suggested there could still be a role for South Korea in the project, saying that "this is not our last word" and that more talks are being held in Seoul next week concerning the large nuclear energy project.