Westinghouse Electric Co. plans to focus on eastern and central Europe as the U.S. company seeks to benefit from the revival of nuclear power on the continent.
The Polish government’s decision, announced October 28, to pick Westinghouse for its first ever nuclear power plant may be the start of the firm’s expansion in Europe, according to David Durham, president of energy systems at Westinghouse. The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and others are planning to build reactors as nations seek low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels from Russia.
“Central and eastern Europe is a prime market focus for us and Europe in general is extremely attractive,” Durham said in an interview in Warsaw November 3. “We intend to have multiple projects and achieve a lot of synergies, with a local European supply chain servicing all of those projects.”
Westinghouse was selected to build three AP1000 reactors at a location in northern Poland, or half of what it bid for. Electricite de France SA and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. were also competing for the contracts and could return with offers for the remaining three reactors at a second location, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.
The cost of the first three reactors will be $20 billion, according to Morawiecki. While Westinghouse’s Durham declined to confirm the figure, he said the price per unit for three or six reactors could differ significantly and that it “would make the most sense” to pick the same supplier for both sites.
“If you commit to three reactors today and then give us another three 15 years from now, you’ve lost all that synergy,” he said. “Ideally the decision on the next three reactors should be made in the next year or so. Perhaps two years.”
Poland’s pick of a U.S. partner seemed a natural choice with recent tightening of cooperation between the two countries amid Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine. But Poland has also started talks with Korea Hydro on an alternative nuclear plant.
Korea Hydro’s bid faces hurdles after Westinghouse sued the company two weeks ago to prevent “unauthorized” sharing of nuclear technology with other countries. The dispute could hamper Korea’s ability to develop plants in other countries, including Poland.
“I think that we have to let the litigation play out,” said Durham, who doesn’t see the Korean bid as a threat. “If we win as we expect, then I do not see them building these reactors either in Poland or in the Czech Republic or Saudi Arabia.”
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