Energy 11 August, 2017 9:00 am   
Editorial staff

Jakóbik: Szyszko’s blocking the atom. Tech teams waiting for a signal

The Minister of Energy admitted that even though he himself was for nuclear energy, the government still lacked full agreement on the subject. This is caused by the opposition from the Environment Minister, writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor in chief at

An example of minister Szyszko’s opposition may be the dispute on including a nuclear program in the Responsible Development Plan (aka Morawiecki’s Plan), which had been waged within the government until the finishing touches were put on the document. If a decision to build a nuclear power plant in Poland is made, contrary to minister Szyszko’s expectations, the Japanese Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) technology will be one of the options.

The technology was used at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant. The facility is located in the Niigata Prefecture, about 220 km away from Tokyo on the coast of the Sea of Japan. It encompasses 4.2 sq km and includes the town of Kashiwazaki and the village of Kariwa.

The plant is managed by TEPCO, the same company that managed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Kashiwazaki was launched in April 1985. Reactors 6 and 7 use cylindrical ABWR. The technology was provided by Toshiba, Hitachi and General Electric. Unlike their predecessors, whose capacity is 1100 MWe, the capacity of reactors 6 and 7 is 1356 MWe. The plant’s total capacity is 8212 MWe.

Even though it would be doable for Japanese companies to build Poland’s power plant on their own from a technological point of view, it seems more possible that a US-Japanese team famous for their work on reactors 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa would be the preferable option. The team includes such companies as Toshiba, Hitachi and General Electric.

Alternatively Poland could choose a different partner, the Toshiba-Westinghouse team, which uses AP1000 technology. However, there have been problems with the realization of their projects. The Southern Company will decide whether they will construct an AP1000 reactor in Georgia. The representatives of the Polish government point to the fact that from a political point of view this solution would be good. The US and Japan are both western countries and Americans from General Electric are our NATO allies, while the Japanese from Toshiba and Hitachi are our long-time, credible partners.

This cannot be said about French companies, such as Areva, which is now in crisis, or Chinese firms, such as China Nuclear Engineering Company and China Nuclear Power Design Company, which are not popular among Poland’s counterintelligence analysts. This duet functions at the EPR nuclear power plant in Taishan. However, the challenge is that the EPR technology is not doing well at the French Flamanville and Finnish Olkiluoto, where costs have significantly escalated. The ABWR reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa were built in line with the plan and the cost estimates within three years.

The Japanese are arguing that ABWR is an infallible, verified in use nuclear technology that could contribute to Poland’s economic development and economic cooperation with Japan. However, my interlocutors in Tokyo are concerned about Warsaw’s unclear position. We still don’t know if Poland will actually decide to invest in atom. This is the final break before a decision on constructing a facility, which Poles might want to finance on their own by spending PLN 4-6 bn over a decade, is made. This scenario is being seriously considered by the government.