US-Polish companies sign nuclear power agreement

Nuscale & KGHM photo
KGHM Polska and NuScale Power have joined together to bring nuclear energy to Poland’s future power mix, with the first reactor due for operation in 2029. The move is part of KGHM’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

KGHM prioritises nuclear power

Poland is set to see the deployment of advanced small modular reactor (SMR) technology thanks to an agreement signed between Polish state-owned copper giant KGHM Polska Miedż and U.S. company NuScale Power, according to energy news website Power Technology. The move finalises the letter of intent signed between the two companies in September 2021. SMR is the first and only small modular reactor to receive design approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to NuScale.

“NuScale will work with KGHM to support the deployment of SMR technology, and together, the organisations will take steps toward deploying a first NuScale VOYGR power plant in Poland as early as 2029, which would help Poland avoid up to 8M tons of CO2 emissions per year,” stated the NuScale website. “The first task under the agreement,” it continued, “will identify and assess potential project sites and develop project planning milestones and cost estimates.” According to Rzeczpospolita, four reactors are initially planned to be built, but ultimately up to 12 reactors are planned, each with a capacity of 77 MW. The first is slated to be ready by 2029.

The construction of small nuclear reactors by KGHM is directly related to the company’s climate policy and its new strategic direction – energy, with the company wishing to invest in new technologies to reduce its carbon footprint. KGHM says that the commissioning of the SMR reactors will reduce Polish annual greenhouse gas emissions by around 8 million tonnes of CO₂.

“We are the second-largest consumer of electricity in Poland. This is a strategic project for us. SMR technology means energy self-sufficiency and lower costs,” said KGHM CEO Marcin Chludziński.

Inflation hits 22-year peak

Inflation in Poland hit a new high, reaching 9.2%, according to the Central Statistical Office (GUS) as reported by Rzeczpospolita on Tuesday. It marks the country’s highest inflation rate in 22 years. Prices of consumer goods and services increased y-y by 9.2% in January and 1.9% compared to December 2021.

Fuel prices saw the highest increase, climbing by 23.8% y-y. Prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages were 9.4% higher in January than a year earlier, while the prices of alcohol and tobacco products increased by 3.7%. Experts predict that inflation will continue to rise over 10%, with the next indicator coming in March. The last time inflation in Poland exceeded 9% was in November 2000.

New electric car registrations up over 200%

The number of registrations of new electric battery and hydrogen vehicles (BEV + FCEV) increased by 260.8% y-y to 534 units in January 2022, based on data from the Polish Automotive Industry Association (PZPM) taken from CEPiK (the Central Registry of Vehicles and Drivers).

Also in January, registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) increased by 62.9% to 733 units. Meanwhile, the total number of new passenger car registrations this January fell by 10.2% to 28,975 units.

Salary expectations among Poles rising

More than half of employees did not receive raises in 2021, according to the “Labour Market Monitor” (“Monitor Rynku Pracy”) report published by the Randstad Research Institute. And among those who did get a pay rise, 41% said that the increase was smaller than they expected.

Salary increases were most noticeable in industry, health care and social assistance (with 56% of employees in this sector getting raises), as well as transport and logistics (54%). Employees in retail and wholesale trade (36%), hotel and catering (35%), and education (30%) had the lowest salary growth.

Half of employees expect a pay rise in the near future. At the same time, 42% do not intend to ask their managers for a raise, believing it would be poorly received by their boss and unlikely to get a result. Almost one in three respondents plan to raise the subject of a pay rise, with the majority citing inflation as the main reason (65%).

Food retail industry in Poland may soon exceed $100 billion

The food sector in Poland is expected to break the $100 billion threshold no later than by 2025, according to analysis by research firm Research and Markets. However, it may happen faster due to the high interest in premium products, said retail technology solutions company Checkpoint Systems.

Poland’s agri-food exports are also a good sign, with the value of exports rising by around 10% to over PLN 155 billion in January-November 2021. “Ensuring continuous supply chains (…) and awareness of the importance of providing full transparency and control over the path food products take from production to the grocery shelf is invaluable in this difficult time,” said Checkpoint Systems Business Unit Director Ewa Pytkowska.

The latest CBRE analysis of the grocery sector in Poland shows that food and non-alcoholic beverages constitute up to one quarter of all household expenses. Almost 40% of Poles do their grocery shopping daily, while those who buy food less than 3 times a week are a significant minority. It is worth noting, however, that the pandemic has resulted in more than half of consumers (51%) doing more shopping in one go than they did before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Agri-food exports up by 9% to EUR 37.4 billion in 2021

The value of agri-food exports increased by 9% y-y to EUR 37.4 billion (PLN 170.8 billion) in 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said.

“The difference between exports and imports has increased by nearly 10%, and the positive balance of agricultural and food products exchange is now EUR 12.7 billion,” – said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Henryk Kowalczyk.

The increase in agricultural and food exports allows to manage food surpluses produced in Poland, provides an important source of revenue for the Polish agri-food industry, and indirectly influences the economy.

Poland’s solitary Olympic bronze medal

As of 17 February, the Polish winter Olympics team had won one medal, with ski jumper Dawid Kubacki taking the bronze in the Olympic ski jumping competition on the normal hill in Beijing (HS-106), to put Poland in 25th position in the national medals ranking alongside Belgium, Estonia and Latvia.

To date, Polish athletes have won a total of 23 medals in the history of the Winter Olympics: 7 gold, 7 silver, and 9 bronze. This year there are 57 athletes on the Polish Olympic team, 30 women and 27 men.

Kubacki’s bronze is Poland’s fourth Olympic medal in the men’s individual normal hill, after Adam Małysz won silver at Vancouver 2010 and bronze at Salt Lake City 2002, and Kamil Stoch won the Sochi 2014 gold medal.

February 04, 2022
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Written by: Richard Stephens