Applications for SMRs submitted to Polish regulator

11 July 2022

Two applications have been submitted to Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency (Państwowa Agencja Atomistyki, PAA) for the assessment of small modular reactor (SMR) technology. Copper and silver producer KGHM Polska Miedź SA's application is based on NuScale's VOYGR SMR power plant, while Orlen Synthos Green Energy's application concerns GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's BWRX-300.

(Image: PAA)

The applications are for a 'general opinion' on the planned organisational and technical solutions used in the respective reactors. PAA said a general opinion, "as a pre-licence instrument, may apply to any solutions planned by the investor, including design, technological and organisational solutions, which will have a direct impact on the issues of nuclear safety and radiological protection." It noted the opinion should aim at determining whether the planned organisational and technical solutions comply with the requirements of nuclear safety and radiological protection resulting from the provisions of the country's Atomic Law Act, or whether the investor should make appropriate modifications.

The PAA president has six months to issue an opinion on this matter. However, the regulator noted that this could be extended to nine months in "particularly complex cases".

In February this year, KGHM - which submitted its application on 8 July - signed a definitive agreement with NuScale to initiate work towards deploying a first NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant in Poland as early as 2029. The first task under that agreement will identify and assess potential project sites and develop project planning milestones and cost estimates.

"This is a historic day not only for KGHM, but also for Poland," said KGHM President Marcin Chludziński. "We are taking another significant step towards the atom. Today - as the first in the country - we applied to the National Atomic Energy Agency for the assessment of the SMR technology that we want to implement. Thus, we forget about the subjunctive procedure, when we talk about nuclear energy from small nuclear reactors in our country."

Chludziński added that the next step will be to prepare a localisation study. "KGHM takes into account several places, the selection criteria concern, inter alia, compliance with Polish law, environmental protection or economic issues," the company said. "In addition, work is already under way to launch a Test Control Centre in Poland. Operators and nuclear energy specialists will be trained there."

Orlen Synthos Green Energy - a joint venture between chemical producers Synthos Green Energy (SGE) and PKN Orlen - also submitted its application on 8 July. In December 2021, GE Hitachi, BWXT Canada and SGE signed a Letter of Intent to cooperate in deploying BWRX-300 SMRs in Poland. SGE, together with its partners, aim to deploy the first BWRX-300 in 2029 and to have at least 10 of the reactors in operation by the early 2030s.

The technical documentation submitted with its application is based on the documentation prepared by the technology supplier for the Canadian nuclear regulator as part of the Vendor Design Review process, Orlen Synthos Green Energy noted.

Ontario Power Generation last year selected the BWRX-300 for deployment at its Darlington site, where it says Canada's first commercial, grid-scale SMR could be completed as soon as 2028.

"Thanks to this, it will be possible to use the Canadian experience in the field of development, preparation of the investment process, licensing, construction and operation of a nuclear power plant of the same type in Poland," Orlen said.

"Ensuring stable energy supplies to the Polish system requires the rapid implementation of nuclear technologies," said PKN Orlen President Daniel Obajtek. "To do this, we have to rely on proven technologies, and this is what BWRX is for which we have exclusivity. This technology is characterised by the highest thermal efficiency. It is also crucial that we have acquired a partner who has extensive experience in implementing nuclear technology and can be a global leader in the development of SMR technology.

"In this way, PKN Orlen provides real solutions to increase the energy independence of our economy. We do not limit ourselves to our own needs and we want to build reactors in locations important for the continuity of supplies to the national network."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News