Poland to engage more partners in nuclear program

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 2:38 PM
Poland to engage more partners in nuclear program

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will seek to engage more partners to help its top utility PGE build the country's first nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Thursday.

Poland, the European Union's largest eastern economy, relies on highly polluting coal for nearly all its energy needs and Warsaw has started a number of new energy projects, including nuclear, to lower the reliance.

"Immediately after naming the new management at PGE, we will look into the nuclear program," Tusk told a news conference.

"We may recommend increasing the number of entities partnering PGE in this undertaking," he said, adding this would reduce any financial risks for any single company, particularly given current difficult economic conditions.

"So we will aim to engage a larger number of partners to join the financial and organizational aspect of building Poland's first nuclear power plant," he said.

So far, Poland's no.2 utility Tauron as well as copper producer KGHM, among others, have said they could join PGE in the project.

Earlier on Thursday Poland sold some 7 percent stake in PGE for 19.20 zlotys per share. The company has yet to name its new chief executive after the centrist government let go of the former head in late 2011.

TECHNOLOGY

Westinghouse, a U.S. unit of Japan's Toshiba, France's Areva and American-Japanese GE Hitachi want to supply technology for the 3 gigawatt station, which is expected to become operational in 2020s and doubling that capacity in 2030s.

GE Hitachi said on Thursday it was offering two types of reactors to Poland - an active and an entirely passive one, which could go on without power supplies for more than seven days.

"GE Hitachi declares it takes 39 months from pouring concrete to first fuel load. Its investments have never run behind the schedule so far," Michael Tetuan of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy told Reuters.

GE Hitachi's Polish supply chain could include boiler manufacturer Rafako and builder Polimex-Mostostal, among others.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Pawel Sobczak; editing by James Jukwey)