Poland looks to South Korea to build 2nd nuclear power plant

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish and South Korean officials have signed initial agreements to develop a nuclear power plant in Poland, part of an effort by Poland to lower its carbon emissions and seek energy security.

For South Korea, engagement in the Polish project is a way to revive the country's nuclear power industry. The country's last export deal, to the United Arab Emirates, was in 2009.

The signing of agreements in Seoul come days after Poland announced that it had picked the U.S. and Westinghouse to build the first nuclear power plant in northern Poland.

Officials from the Polish and South Korean governments, as well as from energy companies, met in Seoul on Monday to sign agreements laying out their cooperation on the construction of the second nuclear power plant. It is to be built with Korean technology in Patnow in southwestern Poland, some 230 kilometers (140 miles) from Warsaw.

A binding contract is due to be signed next year.

Jacek Sasin, the Polish minister of state assets and a deputy prime minister, signed a memorandum of understanding with Lee Chang-Yang, the South Korean minister of trade, industry and energy.

At the same time, Polish energy companies PGE and ZE PAK signed a letter of intent with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power to cooperate on the project.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the deal as a “strategic” investment which has the aim of "strengthening our sovereignty in the field of energy security.”

Poland has planned for decades to build a nuclear power plant to replace its aging coal-fired plants and alleviate air pollution.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year and its use of energy to put economic and political pressure on European nations have added urgency to Poland’s search for alternative energy sources.

Both the U.S. and South Korea are important partners for Poland, a NATO country which borders Ukraine and is a strong ally of Kyiv.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the U.S. increased its military presence in Poland, creating a permanent presence for the first time, and using the country as a hub for sending weapons to Ukraine.

Poland has also signed deals for billions of dollars worth of tanks, howitzers and fighter planes from South Korea since the start of the war.