The United States and Poland closed a nuclear power deal potentially worth $18 billion as the Central European country seeks to reduce its reliance on coal and Russian natural gas.
While the deal is not yet final, there is a pretty good chance that Warsaw will pick the U.S. over its main competitors on the international nuclear energy scene, namely China and Russia.
“We are hopeful that the ultimate decisions that are made by Poland ... over a period of time will result in them choosing U.S. technology,” Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told reporters as quoted by Reuters.
Poland wants to build six nuclear reactors to supplement its gas imports. Currently, it imports a lot of gas from Russia, but given the less than friendly bilateral relations, it wants to cut these off, and soon, by 2022, Reuters notes. Instead, it would import pipeline gas by Norway and liquefied natural gas from, among others, the United States.
Yet Poland also relies heavily on coal-fired power plants, and this goes counter to the EU’s ambitions for a net-zero economy in 2050. The only way to reduce or even eliminate its coal use is to replace that cheap energy with another comparable generational capacity.
The agreement closed this week stipulates that over the next 18 months, the parties will develop a program for the construction of the reactors and how they will be financed. Per plans, the first reactors should come online in 2033.
The whole program could end up costing Warsaw some $40 billion, of which at least $18 billion would go towards acquiring U.S. nuclear technology, according to a U.S. government official.
Poland’s government plans to build between 6 and 9 GW of nuclear capacity by 2040, but it will also invest in renewable energy, planning between 8 and 11 GW in offshore wind power capacity.