Poland and South Korea sign nuclear plant deal
South Korea and Poland have signed outline agreements to develop nuclear power in Poland in Warsaw’s bid to move away from coal and lower carbon emissions while weakening its dependence on Russia.
On Friday Poland announced that the US firm Westinghouse Electric Co. would build a nuclear power plant in the north of the country.
Polish power suppliers ZE PAK and PGE and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) will assess the viability of building four 1.4-gigawatt nuclear reactors in Patnow, central Poland, South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Poland’s Ministry of State Assets said in a joint statement.
The companies are due to prepare a development plan for the power station before the end of 2022.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol ran for election this year partly on a pledge to revive the nuclear power industry and Seoul is increasingly looking to agree export orders.
Polish state assets minister Jacek Sasin, during a recent visit to Seoul, tweeted that he had discussed enhancing bilateral defence ties with South Korea.
ZE PAK, owned by billionaire Zygmunt Solorz, produces electricity, largely by burning filthy lignite or brown coal, but it plans to phase out coal by 2030 with renewable sources.
Poland has planned for decades to build a nuclear power station to replace its ageing and polluting coal-fired plants to address some of the most severe air pollution in Europe. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and its use of energy to put economic and political pressure on European nations, prompting Seoul to invest in alternative energy sources.
US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said the US$40-billion scheme would create or sustain more than 100,000 US jobs.
Granholm tweeted: “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.
“This announcement also sends a clear message to Russia: we will not let them weaponise energy any longer,” she added. “The west will stand together against this unprovoked aggression, while also diversifying energy supply chains and bolstering climate cooperation.”
The United States is increasingly building a permanent military presence in Poland and using the central European country as a hub to send weapons to Ukraine.
Poland’s Communist economy was geared around coal. Picture credit: PXList