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Cześć to clean energy: ORNL team brings nuclear expertise to open new training center in Poland

The U.S. and Poland launched the Clean Energy Training Center in Warsaw, Poland in early April. Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Warsaw.
The U.S. and Poland launched the Clean Energy Training Center in Warsaw, Poland in early April. Credit: U.S. Embassy Warsaw.

Four Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers traveled to Warsaw, Poland, during the first week of April to support the opening of Poland’s first Clean Energy Training Center, or CETC, a regional hub dedicated to providing workforce development and training to expand new nuclear capacity in Central Europe.  

The center is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Polish Ministry of Climate and the Environment, with ORNL lending technical and training expertise. This new training capacity seeks to directly support Poland’s recent commitment to deploying advanced nuclear reactors in the region. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Nuclear Security Administration also supported the launch event. 

ORNL’s delegation included Andrew Worrall, DeLeah Lockridge, Gale Hauck and Kate Borowiec, representing ORNL’s Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division.

ORNL's Gale Hauck, Kate Borowiec, and DeLeah Lockridge pose for a selfie at the opening of Poland's first Clean Energy Training Center in Warsaw, Poland. Photo Credit: DeLeah Lockridge
ORNL's Gale Hauck, Kate Borowiec and DeLeah Lockridge pose for a selfie at the opening of Poland's first Clean Energy Training Center in Warsaw, Poland. Credit: DeLeah Lockridge/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

“This is such an exciting initiative; to be a part of it was a privilege. Having worked in the nuclear field for over 30 years, I have been extremely fortunate to have benefited from a lot of training and applied experience,” Worrall, ORNL’s director of nuclear programs, said. “To be able to share those insights and experience with a new nuclear country and to be a part of this DOE-led center underlines the role of a national lab such as ORNL and the benefit of the collaboration the U.S. has with Poland.” 

The visit culminated months of virtual meetings between ORNL, the Polish nuclear industry, academics and other stakeholders, during which they discussed advanced nuclear deployment, including quality assurance and compliance, fuel cycle and waste management, and supply chain development. The launch marked a transition to in-person collaboration. 

“Having worked for more than a decade at a nuclear construction site, I understand the critical decisions that the Poles are making. These decisions will have a lasting impact on their community, economy, and future generations,” Lockridge, a senior R&D staff member and leader of the lab’s Nuclear Operations and Licensing group, said. “The Poles are embarking on an incredible journey; ORNL is positioned to help them navigate it safely, securely and sustainably.  

CETC’s initial training sessions were held at Warsaw Technical University, where Borowiec completed her undergraduate studies in 2016. 

“Poland is embarking on a challenging and exciting journey to operating a clean and secure energy source, said Borowiec, an R&D associate staff member for system and data analytics engineering. “I am thrilled to be a part of this venture by participating in DOE-led Clean Energy Training Center. This initiative is a great avenue for U.S.-Poland collaboration and exchange of expertise.”

The training center is just one of several recent initiatives to introduce nuclear energy to the Polish electric grid. Late last fall, Polish officials announced plans to bring the country’s first nuclear reactor online by 2033. In December, Poland joined 20 other countries in pledging to triple new nuclear capacity by 2050. 

“Nuclear energy is an essential element of Poland's clean energy transition and key for Poland’s future energy security,” Hauck, senior R&D staff for innovative nuclear reactors, said. “ORNL is uniquely qualified within DOE’s national lab network to provide the deployment and operations expertise needed to accelerate deployment through the CETC.” 

Poland relies almost entirely on a fleet of aging coal-fired plants to power homes and businesses. The move to nuclear power aims to reduce Poland’s air pollution and bolster energy security. 

DOE’s Office of International Nuclear Energy Policy and Cooperation leads efforts to launch regional Clean Energy Training Centers, including centers in Ghana and the United Arab Emirates. The Office collaborates with international partners to support the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.  

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit