AP1000® reactor has the energy to bring us together
It was a truly remarkable statement, for its breadth and its accuracy.
Following the announcement Nov. 2 by the Polish Council of Ministers that Westinghouse Electric Company would supply three AP1000® reactors for Poland’s developing nuclear energy program, U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski said, “This project represents 100 years of new strategic cooperation between the United States and Poland, including the development and construction phase, the operating life of the plants and their future decommissioning.”
A century of cooperation.
That is what nuclear energy has the power to do. Is there another electricity source that has the capability to bring two nations together in this way? And the potential synergies extend beyond just electrons, which is precisely what sets nuclear energy apart.
Our AP1000 reactor is securing its place as the technology of choice in the world’s electricity mix. In China, four reactors are setting operational records, four more are under construction, and two more have been announced. In the U.S., at Plant Vogtle in Georgia, two reactors are preparing for start-up in 2023. At a time when nuclear energy is needed more than ever, the AP1000 reactor is the perfect technology to meet the challenge.
A First for Poland
As Ambassador Brzezinski highlighted, the initial project of Poland’s nuclear energy program will produce 3,600 megawatts, providing “15% of Poland’s total electricity consumption.” With the current reliance on fossil fuels — mostly coal — Poland needs carbon-free resources that can power the nation while helping to clear the air. Nuclear is well-suited to the task because of its ability to generate a lot of electricity, its always-on reliability, and its carbon-free production.
But nuclear sets itself apart in another way: the ability to provide good-paying jobs. As has been noted, the total six-unit project would support 20,000 workers in Poland and create or sustain many thousands of jobs in the U.S. Both countries will benefit from the cooperation, which comes as the U.S. focuses attention on the nuclear industry to help other countries.
In her statement on Poland’s selection of Westinghouse, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm wrote:
“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.”
Indeed, Westinghouse has already helped launch what we expect to be long-lasting careers in nuclear energy through an internship program for Polish students. Fifteen engineering students from Polish technical universities visited the U.S. this summer to work alongside Westinghouse professionals. Ten students who were completing their studies either this year or next were offered jobs with Westinghouse, and the remaining five students returned to university to complete their education. Plans are gearing up to welcome more students in 2023.
The resurgence of nuclear energy has been driven in large measure by concerns about climate change and the replacement of carbon-emitting energy resources.
Now, due to events in Eastern Europe, energy security has come to the forefront. Here again, nuclear energy is well-suited to building strategic alliances and deepening long-standing friendships among nations.
In his statement on the Poland initiative, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken made clear these two purposes can be accomplished with nuclear energy:
“This project is also a major step forward in our global fight against climate change. When fully operational, the reactors are projected to result in 26 million tons per year of CO2 emissions averted and demonstrate that we can strengthen our energy security and our climate ambition simultaneously."
An important aspect of energy security is nuclear fuel. Westinghouse recently announced a collaboration with ENUSA for fabrication of VVER-440 fuel, offering an alternative for European utilities operating reactors that use such fuel.
As countries look to ensure their people have access to reliable, clean electricity, nuclear is there to support those efforts.
“A New Era”
Regarding the Poland announcement, Westinghouse President and CEO Patrick Fragman said, “This is an historic day for Poland and for Westinghouse. We are honored to partner with the Polish government on the launch of a new era of energy security, one that will bring reliable, affordable carbon-free electricity and economic benefits to the people of Poland.”
It is not overstating things to label this a “new era” for Poland, precisely because of the transformative benefits nuclear energy delivers, be it for climate change, energy security or economic growth.
Westinghouse, through its technology and skilled team, has a unique ability to enhance the lives of many people around the world, from working to fuel nuclear fleets, build new nuclear reactors, assist in the safe and efficient operation of reactors and, ultimately, decommission plants in the right way.
The power of nuclear energy is hopeful and it’s positive. At the end of the day, it provides a better life for those who create it, and for those who benefit from its gift: clean, cost-effective, reliable electricity.
*Photo courtesy of Georgia Power