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One of only a handful of European nations still pursuing plans to build nuclear-power plants, Poland will select the provider of the technology for its first facility this year and hopes it will start operating in 2023, a government official said.

In an attempt to reduce its reliance on highly polluting coal and provide energy for its expanding economy, Poland is seeking to start a three gigawatt plant and double its capacity by 2030.

The process of choosing the nuclear technology has so far attracted the interest of American-Japanese group GE Hitachi, France's Areva and Westinghouse, a US unit of Japan's Toshiba.

But it has been hampered by bureaucratic delays.

"I am convinced that the contract's engineer will be selected this year," deputy Treasury Minister Zdzislaw Gawlik told a parliamentary committee assessing the advancement of Poland's nuclear programme.

The project's manager, PGE, Poland's top utility, said in March the tender for nuclear technology would be launched within two months, but has provided no information since then.

The government's plenipotentiary for the nuclear programme, Hanna Trojanowska, said Poland would implement all regulations required to set up a fixed legal framework for the process by the end of June.

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