Energy Nuclear 22 March, 2024 7:35 am   
COMMENTS: Mirosław Kowalik

Kowalik: We will publish a report on Poland’s economic gain from nuclear power plants with US technology (INTERVIEW)

Miroslaw-Kowalik-590×2000 Mirosław Kowalik. Picture by Westinghouse

“A report is being prepared on the benefits that the construction of the nuclear power plant in Pomerania will bring to the Polish economy. It will be made available to the public soon,”  promised Mirosław Kowalik, president of Westinghouse Polska, in an interview with How can US companies participate in the development of Pomerania?

Mirosław Kowalik: I believe that the nuclear project will be a driving force for the economy of Pomerania and Poland. Westinghouse has been active on the local market since 2021, when we opened a global Joint Services Center in Kraków and an office in Warsaw. We currently employ nearly 300 people in Poland and this number will gradually increase. As we approach the start of preparatory and construction work, we plan to open an office in Pomerania, close to the indicated location. We will create more jobs in the region, in addition to those that will be created in Polish companies that carry out orders within the supply chain, the so-called local content. We have identified more than 500 companies we have contacted These are companies of different sizes, and will be able to participate in various areas of this comprehensive project and the so-called supply chain pyramid. Currently, Westinghouse is in the process of selecting companies that will create the first so-called AP1000 reactor structural module models at a smaller scale to gain experience and prepare to make these components at a real scale. AP1000 technology, currently the most proven and safe solution offered on the market, has passive safety systems, and the reactor design is based on modules. Thus, most components are prepared at the factory, and thanks to the optimizations, they contain fewer elements that can fail. We want to enter into cooperation with Polish companies that will make models of these modules on a smaller scale in order to test their production systems and the possibility of making them in real size.

During the quality and technical audits that we carry out, we discover competency gaps at the companies, which should be rectified so that they can participate in the nuclear project. This is to improve their qualifications and enable these companies to join the group of qualified suppliers, whether in the tier 1 position of the so-called supply chain pyramid as an integrator of supply parts, or tier 2 as a subsupplier of an integrator, or tier 3 as a supplier of smaller components. Because of this many companies that will want to participate in the construction of the nuclear power plant will have to remodel their supply chains. The value of additional revenues at the scale of the investment will be very large, and the ten-year implementation will bring numerous benefits to the companies participating in the project. At the peak of the construction of the power plant, we estimate the need to employ directly from eight to nine thousand employees. Indirectly, this will be a much higher number, including cooperative companies. A report on the impact of the construction of a nuclear power plant in Pomerania on the economy is being prepared. It will be made available to the public soon.

How much time do we have to prepare before the start of construction, which was planned for 2026?

Preparations should begin now. Entrepreneurs should balance themselves internally, that is, analyze their own organizational, production and personal potential, create appropriate business plans, taking into account information about how much it will cost them to engage in the investment, meet requirements, and how much they can benefit in the next 10-15 years. I am convinced that Polish companies know how to approach this issue, we are in direct contact with many of them. In 2 years we have organized 3 conferences together with Bechtel for potential suppliers. The last one, organized in Gdynia in October 2023, was an opportunity to inform local entrepreneurs about the technical and quality requirements that they should meet, how they should remodel the processes, quality management systems in their company in order to obtain appropriate qualifications and certifications. Our specialists participated in the trainings organized on behalf of the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

In their analyses, entrepreneurs should answer the question: how many additional orders from the market can they obtain while increasing the production, quality and technical potential that qualifies them for a nuclear project? All this can be estimated and calculated. Thanks to this, local companies will be able to become part of the Polish nuclear program chain, which will be part of the European chain. I would like to emphasize that there is a great opportunity for small and medium-sized Polish manufacturing companies, which can become important suppliers for companies integrating larger ranges of supplies, modules or complete technological nodes or devices.

Bechtel, Westinghouse and Polish Nuclear Power Plants are negotiating a contract to build an NPP in Pomerania. When can we expect news?

It is part of the process under the contract currently being implemented, which concerns the design of the Lubiatowo-Kopalino power plant and the design of the next stages of the project. Our documentation will meet the requirements and regulatory standards applicable in Poland and will be adapted to the needs of the project and the client. The provided documentation will be used to, among others, obtain permits and licenses and to clarify the terms of contracts for subcontractors and the next phases of the project, including the EPC (Engineering Procurement Construction) contract. It will ensure greater quality and accuracy in the implementation of the next stages of the project, which are the subject of discussions between the Westinghouse-Bechtel consortium and the client already at this stage. All interested parties are aware of the importance of developing optimal conditions for the correct and uninterrupted implementation of the project to build the first nuclear power plant in Poland.

Interview by Wojciech Jakóbik