Technologies at Westinghouse are ideal for Energy solutions in Poland. We sat down to talk with Miroslaw Kowalik, President of Westinghouse Poland
Why is the atom the way of our future and is it worth investing in nuclear Energy?
More and more countries are committed to achieving zero emission levels of carbon dioxide output, at the same time looking out for their Energy assurance. In response to these challenges, governments more frequently realize that they need dependable and controllable Energy sources , which are capable of working with unstable renewable sources, which will assure the electromagnetic grid is always online and to avoid any potential blackouts during breaks in renewable Energy production. Our Nuclear Powerplant that was built with our tested hydro reactor, III+ generation, being the AP1000® assures safe and emission free Energy supply to our homes and for the economy.
It is generally accepted that nuclear powerplants are exceptionally dangerous. Servicing of these atomic powerplants is scheduled about every 60 to 100 years, during which it produces cheap, free of carbon dioxide electric Energy that has a more or less fixed price. For over 70 years at Westinghouse we answer clients needs across the world with satisfactory results, and our technology is the basis for about half of active nuclear plants across the world.
In Poland we will have to generate at least 6-9 GV of nuclear power to fill the gap created by eliminating coal power. These plants are crucial for safety of the electroenergy grid. Every nuclear reactor with Westinghouse technology built in, guarantees at least 1.1 GV of power, in effect building 6-8 such buildings with this technology would secure the Energy interests in this country for many, many years to come. This becomes further more important, after Russia’s military attack on Ukraine. The events of the past few weeks have shone the light on risk severity shouldered on leaning the economy and mixing Energy with the dependence on importing hydrocarbons and fossil fuels from Russia. We need diverse and stable sources of Energy, tested atom technology appears to be the pre-eminent solution, given that it will serve us for many years to come.
Can you please tellu s something more about AP1000® technology which Westinghouse wants to sell in Poland?
Westinghouse Powerplants AP1000®, which we offer in Poland, is reliant on advanced technology and meets high world and European standards of safety and quality. It is the only advanced generation III+ licenced reactor in the world. It is market tested – 4 AP1000® are functional since 2019 in China, setting world records for availability and functional performance, 2 more are in the final stages of construction in the USA.
Unique, passive security systems of the AP1000® reactor, guarantee in case of an emergency shut down, it will not be necessary to connect to an outside electric Energy source to cool down fuel inside the reactor. The AP1000® is characterized by a module design and takes up the least real estate amongst all III+ generation reactors at the same generating capacity. This is why Westinghouse technology is the ideal option for Energy needs in Poland.
You have 25 years of experience in the Energy sector. Previous positions held by you include President of Enei, one of the biggest Energy firms in Poland. How do you intend on using your experience in your current post?
My knowledge of Polish and European conditions, trends and following foot changes in legislaturę in the electroenergy sector helps better understand its needs and challenges, both on the national level and European level. Many years of experience in the Energy sector without a doubt are advantageous, since it helps broaden the perspective on these topics, prepare and develop appropriate synergies, optimal business models for the Polish nuclear program, with the help of experience from our counterparts at Westinghouse in America. It is important to know our main stakeholders of the project on the Polish end and to meet their expectations. When I took over my new position, I am focusing on growth and strengthening our cooperation with our main partners involved in building the Polish nuclear power program, additionally with companies and universities, whose involvement is very important from the Polish economy point of view. Opening of Westinghouse Global Shared Services Center in Krakow, august 2021, which is further proof of our serious long term approach to the Polish market.
According to our international contract signed between Poland and the USA, we are preparing a technical-financial proposition to put the Polish nuclear program in motion. One element in particular in this proposition is setting up a front end engineering design (FEED) building a Polish nuclear power plant with foundations of the AP1000® Westinghouse. We focus on preparing a fool-proof proposal, adjusted to Polish needs and requirements, taking advantage of our best experiences in this field. As the president of Westinghouse Poland, I am involved with our teams work, which consists of representatives from Westinghouse and our construction partner Bechtel. These actions will see results midway through this year – right on schedule, by the end of june we will present FEED to the Polish market.
According to you, what challenges must Poland face to ever more confidently implement technological solution in the field of nuclear Energy?
Striving for climate neutrality and securing Energy needs for our nation will demand the development of low emission Energy sources, such as the atom, in the near future. Rising fuel prices permissions for emitting CO2 and unstable geopolitical situation in Europe in the last few months have prioritized the need for developing optimal and rational solutions in the sector of transformation in the Polish Energy sector. Especially that our Energy security in the last few decades have mainly depended on coal sources, whilst the average age of coal power plant is 47 years.
The challenge is limited amount of time for action and application of proven solutions. Now everything depends on the determination of sides partaking. Following the strategic document „Polish Energy Policy 2040” (PEP2040) the Polish government intends on activating the first nuclear reactor in 2033. Westinghouse is well prepared, our AP1000® reactor is complete – we do not have to make any changes to it, it is ready for construction in Poland here and now.
To successfully build appropriate nuclear infastructure in Poland, it is insufficient to focus on just the investment – it’s necessary to adapt other branches of the economy, which will constitute a solid foundation for this sector. I have in mind a responsible growth of appropriate competences in new areas, beginning with securing participation of Polish companies in this project through expanding our workforce, adjusting the educational system in a way so specialists are educated in many related fields. Realization of Polish nuclear program, demands involvment of many stakeholders, beginning with production, service companies, supervisional authority, administrative bodies and finally financial institutions and advisors. We point at these issues as significant elements to the programs success, we share our experience and actively work in these areas. At this point in time, it is worth mentioning that we started cooperating with Polish universities, we begun a summer practical course for students at Polish technical universities. We offered young people a Chance for further growth in field of nuclear Energy. Fifteen students stood out with specific achievements in education as they got internships at the Westinghouse Electric Company headquarters in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania and to Rock Hill in South Carolina, USA, where they will gain valuble experience under watchful eye of experienced practicians in the industry.
Can you tell us something more about operational strategy at Westinghouse in Poland, especially in the field of building new nuclear facilities?
Westinghouse is the global leader in nuclear Energy development – we possess essential know-how to building nuclear power plants in all corners of the world. Our innovative solutions make us the preferred partner in field of technologies encompassing the nuclear plants longevity. Our unique business model favours this movement, which predicts large scale involvement from local construction firms in building these nuclear power plants. We have verified 350 such firms already here in Poland. Polish firms are capable of supplying substantially more than 50% of materials needed for reactors. January of this year we have moved another step ahead and signed agreements with our first 10 partners. If our AP1000® technology is selected by the federal government, these companies will have the opportunity to become subcontractors with jobs one the first nuclear reactor and in range of future projects implementing the AP1000® technology in east-central Europe. We are happy at the perspective of working in Poland and bringing in the AP1000® technology to this country with benefits for local firms
Moreover we have just hired over 130 people in our service center in our shared services center in Krakow, by the end of the year we would like to have a total of 160 personell. Currently Westinghouse employees fill many corporate functions in the name of Westinghouse around the world. With the intent of growing our office, we will also hire engineers and experts in innovative technologies. All this is just the beggining of the Polish nuclear hub, which we are currently developing for which I am responsible in the name of Westinghouse.
Westinghouse Electric Company is one of the pretenders for the bid to build the first nuclear plant in Poland. How do you assess your chances of winning winning the bid?
We are convinced our offer is the most solid technologicially wise. No other nuclear reactor on earth that possesses such safe, dependable technology, which has been field tested. It is benefcial to us that our proposal has support from the American government, this may be the deciding factor. Nuclear Energy is in a handful of projects supported by Development of Finance Institution (DFC). In cooperation with the American Import Export bank (EXIM Bank), these factors can be beneficial to all our clients who will be vying for competetive financing.
Apart from stable Energy supply, what advantages can a nuclear power plant bring to the Polish economy?
Comitting to undertaking such a huge investment, such as a nuclear power plant, Poland opens itself up to new economic possibilities. A nuclear power plant isn’t just a reactor and some buildings. Its development also goes in hand with totally new infrastructure, that simulates growth of chain of supply, which I have mentioned earlier. Above all, building of these reactors will be a stimuli for Polish industries, because it will demand the involvement of local suppliers, engineers and managers. Westinghouse can not only deliver technology in that respect, but share its know-how, support the local population and create jobs.
Western European countries share a somewhat ambivalent sentyment towards nuclear Energy, on one hand its the most environmentally friendly source of power, on the other hand the thought that nuclear Energy is tied in with considerable danger. In respect to these factors, how does the future present itself regarding nuclear power plants in Europe and are these „phobias” before the atom going to have any negative impact in investment plans in Poland?
I’m remaining optimistic. The change in narrative is observable from the European Union authorities. A debate lasting a few months regarding taxonomy, i.e. what’s in the metaphoric „shopping cart” of investments related to Energy transformation are regarded as sustainable environmentally and qualify for financing by the European Union, had a favorable turn of events. European Commission agreed to include the atom among its projects. Legally binding decisions in this direction will be made in about a year, but we already do know that nuclear Energy can play a major role in Energy transformation on the Old Continent.
Is the European pricing crisis in the Energy markets an incentive, a opportunity for more determined investment actions within the nuclear Energy sector?
Support for the atom is flowing from all directions in the Polish political scene – decisively greater numer of political parties in Polish parliament resoundingly points to the necessity of building nuclear power plants in Poland. A study conducted by the Ministry of Climate and Environment shows that 74% of Polish citizens supports building of nuclear power plants. 78% think the atom is a good way to fight climate change and 82% queried thinks that building nuclear power plants in Poland is a good way to increase Energy security in our country. It’s hard to image a better situation – literally and metaphorically – for developing a nuclear project in Poland and its neighbours.
What can I wish for you in the nearest future in your position as president of Westinghouse Poland?
One wish I could really hope for right now is Westinghouse being chosen as the technological partner in the Polish nuclear program. The decision regarding this is supposed to be made this fall, it will be a milestone for continued growth of Westinghouse in Poland.
Next wish has to do with the current geopolitical crisis in our region. I would like to underline that Westinghouse stands united with our colleagues and friends supporting Ukrainians. We definetly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Safety and security of our employees and clients in Ukraine invariably remains our priority. We are in constant contact with our clients in Eastern Europe, to assure safety and punctuality of our committments in that region. I hope our combined efforts will contribute to strengthening of Energy security in Europe.
Miroslaw Kowalik – President of Westinghouse Poland
Miroslaw Kowalik is a manager with rich experience and knowledge about the Energy market in Poland. He was selected president of Westinghouse Poland in may 2021, his role is managing company plans that deal with investements in nuclear technologies in Poland, including delivering leading and safest in the world technology AP1000® into the national nuclear Energy program.
Mr. Kowalik has 25 years of experience in the Energy sector, this includes knowledge in range of business leadership, strategy, acquiring new contracts and business development, which he attained at high managerial positions at companies like SNC Lavalin, Alstom and ABB. Last position held was president of Eneia, one of the biggest Energy companies in Poland.
As president of Westinghouse Electric Poland S.C. with its headquarters in Warsaw, Miroslaw Kowalik manages various areas of business of Westinghouse in Poland, including progress in building new nuclear facilities.
He is an alumni at the Faculty Of Electrical Engineering at Gdynia Maritime University. Earned his MBA at Rotterdam School of Management in cooperation with the Growth Foundation managed by University of Gdansk, also attained a post graduate degree in managing finances of Managing Company Finances at Warsaw School of Economics.
Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Anastazja Lach