The investment in the construction of a nuclear power plant will eclipse all previous energy projects in Poland. This will entail costs, but also offer great opportunities for Polish companies. New jobs will emerge not only when the NPP goes online, but a lot earlier during the preparation stage and construction itself. Many Polish companies will be involved in the construction process. This is an important opportunity for the entire economy, because the greater the share of domestic businesses, the more resources will remain in the country – writes Michał Perzyński, editor at BiznesAlert.pl.
Polish companies and the atom
As examples from all over Europe show, new nuclear power plants generate an entire ecosystem around them. These are large workplaces that have a positive impact on the surroundings – employees from different parts of Poland, Europe and the world will come here, both permanently and for inspections, checkups, creating additional demand for local services. According to the Ministry of Climate and Environment, about 80 entities from Poland provide services to the nuclear industry already. It is also worth emphasizing that the construction of a nuclear power plant consists of two elements – unconventional and conventional. While in the first case, foreign entities will play a leading role due to their know-how, in the second case, the work will not differ significantly from the construction of coal or gas power plants, which is why employment will be found here, for example, by electricians, fitters, welders, excavator operators or professional drivers.
The number of worker employed at the construction stage will reach several thousand people and will change successively depending on the works. In addition, according to various estimates, each job at the construction site of the power plant will generate from five to even ten other jobs – this will apply to such departments as servicing, transport, housing and catering.
While there are no companies dealing with nuclear technology in Poland – there are only a few such companies worldwide – domestic contractors can receive contracts for tasks such as installation of ventilation systems or installation of wiring. These activities involve many specialists, which will create well-paid jobs. Westinghouse, which will be a technology partner in the construction of the power plant in Pomerania, estimates that the total value of orders for Polish companies will amount to more than PLN 100 billion. “We have spoken with more than 500 Polish companies with which we want to exchange technical information regarding the construction of the power plant. We are talking in advance with national companies to see which we can cooperate with. We want to encourage Polish companies to meet our requirements. Many of them already work for the nuclear industry. According to our estimates, we are able to promise a 50 percent participation of Polish companies in the construction of the first three units of the planned power plant,” said Mirosław Kowalik, President of Westinghouse Polska during the Atom for Poland conference in September 2022.
An example of a company from Poland that implemented nuclear projects abroad is ZRE Katowice. It carried out mechanical work on the planned renovation of a steam turbine at the Krško power plant in Slovenia and the dismantling and assembly of a set of 2 new generators with a capacity of 320MVA at the Finnish nuclear power plant. “The work at the Finnish power plant was carried out in the vicinity of working reactors, that were powering the remaining turbine sets. When it comes to the tasks performed at nuclear power plants the key aspects are: detailed planning, sticking to the deadline, safety and quality of works. The same was true in our case, because our deadline was determined by the downtime of the reactors and so it had to be strictly adhered to. Our task was therefore complex both technically and logistically, so the schedule of work and the required resources were discussed by the three parties (end customer, EthosEnergy and ZRE) in detail and developed long before the start of the construction work. While we were on site, during daily tripartite briefings, possible deviations, risks and all other aspects of the task were discussed and coordinated. Thanks to this cooperation, the replacement of both generators was carried out by us in the required time, safely and in compliance with the highest technical and quality standards,” said Krzysztof Krupiński, who supervised these works as a manager at ZRE Katowice.
Another example of a Polish company that participates in nuclear projects around the world is Rockfin, which provides auxiliary systems for turbines and generators that have been operating in nuclear power plants since 2009. “In the meantime, we have managed to implement several different projects at nuclear power plants in France, Mexico and Sweden, and we are currently working on projects in the UK, Turkey and Hungary. Polish companies exist on construction sites mainly in the construction and electrical sectors,” said Rockfin representative Piotr Chmiel in an interview with BiznesAlert.pl.
“It is true that all the bidders who participated in the ternder for the Polish nuclear project, i.e. Westinghouse, KHNP and EDF, tried to outbid one another about local content, which is the number of orders that will be placed in Poland. The main elements of the nuclear reactor, such as tanks or systems used to extract and insert rods, will not come from Poland. However, it will be possible to oder the entire lot of other auxiliary systems, everything that is located in the turbine building, that is, the conventional part of the nuclear power plant, and many elements located around the reactor itself, from Polish companies. In our experience, the key to success for companies looking to become suppliers to the nuclear industry will be how quickly they can adapt to very high quality assurance requirements. These requirements will not be easy, many companies will have to rearrange many processes to meet the requirements that apply to the construction of nuclear power plants,” Piotr Chmiel from Rockfin explained.
But that’s not all. According to the Ministry of Climate and Environment, GE’s Wrocław factories produced a generator stator for the Darlington nuclear power plant in Canada. This NPP already had turbine housing which was heat treated by Famet from Kędzierzyn. Warsaw-based APS Energia produced UPS power stabilizers for the Kudankulam II nuclear power plant in India. The following companies worked at the construction site of the Olkiluoto 3 NPP in Finland: Elektrobudowa, Polbau, Warbud, KMW Enginnering, Gotech, Siemens’s Wrocław department, and Energomontaż Północ Gdynia, which produced the so-called liner for the reactor tank that is heavier than 400 tons. It is estimated that at the peak of construction efforts at the NPP in Finland, 25 Polish companies were involved. Our companies were also involved in the building of the French Nuclear Power Plant Flamanville 3: Polimex Mostostal, Energop Sochaczew, Holduct or Polish factories of the German Berliner Luft. Polish firms are also present at the construction of the Hinkley Point C power plant in the UK (ZKS Ferrum, Rockfin or Elbląg General Electric plants). The Climate Ministry also conducts workshops for Polish entities interested in entering the nuclear power plant market.
Analysts from the Polish Economic Institute estimate that the share of Polish companies in the construction of the atom in a realistic scenario may range from 50 to 70 percent, which has been also mentioned by potential investors from the United States, France and South Korea. The value of investments carried out by Polish companies is about PLN 130 billion, which should generate from 26,4 thousand to up to 39.6 thousand new jobs. These jobs will be related not only to construction, but also to the functioning of the NPPs in the 50-year life cycle of the reactors.