Poland expands cooperation on SMRs and large reactors

23 June 2022

Polish state-owned energy company Enea SA has signed an agreement with US small modular reactor (SMR) developer Last Energy to cooperate on the deployment of SMRs, potentially in Poland. Meanwhile, France's EDF has signed further cooperation agreements with Polish companies to support its offer to supply 4 to 6 EPRs in Poland.

The signing ceremony for the letter of intent between Enea and Last Energy (Image: Enea)

Under the letter of intent between Enea and Last Energy, the two companies will initially cooperate on the development, construction and further distribution of SMRs. It also provides for the possibility of establishing a joint company in Poland, responsible for the implementation of Last Energy's SMR technology in Poland. After confirming the economic and technological viability and obtaining relevant certificates, the companies will decide on the scope of further cooperation based on the market analyses made and the needs of the Enea Group.

The document was signed during the Congress 590 business conference in Nadarzyn near Warsaw. The event was attended by representatives of the Enea Group and Last Energy, as well as Poland's Deputy Prime Minister and State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin.

"This is an historic moment, as we show that in practice we are building Poland's long-term energy security," Sasin said. "Enea is the third Polish company involved in nuclear energy. We want nuclear energy - the traditional, large and state-built energy as well as in the micro dimension - to be our future."

Last Energy's SMR technology is based on a pressurised water reactor with a capacity of 20 MWe or 60 MWt. Power plant modules would be built off-site and assembled in modules. Thanks to the use of ready-made modular components, a reactor is expected to be assembled within 24 months of the final investment decision. The assumed lifetime of the power plant is 42 years.

Enea said the cooperation with Last Energy is in line with its development strategy, which provides for the creation of new business lines, as well as achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

"The letter of intent opens the possibility of access to modern, scalable and emission-free electricity generation technology," said Paweł Majewski, chairman of Enea's board. "Enea Group will potentially be able to use the SMR technology to build its own production capacities, and in the future to offer solutions for industry and heating in Poland.

"Commercialisation of SMR solutions will have a positive impact on energy security, the environment, and the competitiveness of the Polish economy. Enea's entry into the market of small, modular nuclear reactors will allow for the development of new business lines in the future."

"The letter of intent signed today is not only an opportunity to use an ecological and safe source of energy," noted Enea President Jacek Dziuba. "It is also a stimulus for the development of other business and innovative areas."

Last Energy CEO Bret Kugelmass added: "The partnership with the Enea Group in Poland aims to start scaling small, modular nuclear power plants. Thanks to this supply model, we can quickly and efficiently deliver clean energy and help strengthen Poland's energy independence."

Last Energy is a spin off of the Energy Impact Center, a research institute devoted to accelerating the clean energy transition through innovation.

Polish heavy industry is embracing small reactors as a way to avoid burning coal for process heat and power. Chemical producer Synthos has established a subsidiary which has right to develop projects around GE-Hitachi's BWRX-300, and is working with chemical producers PKN Orlen and Ciech on the potential for the BWRX to replace coal at their plants. Synthos is also working with power company ZE Pak to examine whether BWRX-300s could replace coal at the Pątnów power plant.

NuScale is working with liquid fuel supplier Unimot and USA-based Getka to explore whether its power modules could be used instead of coal. NuScale also has a similar project with KGHM Polska Miedź SA and Piela Business Engineering.

EDF signs more cooperation agreements

In September last year, it was announced that six new large reactors could be built by 2040 as part of Poland's plan to reduce its historic heavy reliance on coal, which is incompatible with climate commitments. EDF of France submitted a "non-binding preliminary offer" to supply six large EPR reactors in October.

The company has now signed five new cooperation agreements with Polish companies during its fifth Polish-French Nuclear Industry Day in Ołtarzew, Poland. The event aimed to foster cooperation between Polish and French companies in support of EDF's preliminary offer.

EDF has entered into new cooperation agreements with Polimex Mostostal, Sefako, Tele-fonika Kable, Uniserv and ZRE Katowice, thereby confirming their pre-qualification to participate into potential EPR programmes. Cooperation agreements were also concluded between Bouygues Travaux Publics and Budimex SA, as well as between IGEOS and GIFEN. These agreements follow the signature of five cooperation agreements in December 2021 in France with Zarmen, Rafako, Dominion, Egis Polska and EPG.

"EDF is committed to partnering with the Polish supply chain for the success of EPR projects in Poland and in Europe," said Vakisasai Ramany, EDF senior vice-president in charge of international nuclear development. "EDF's ambition in Poland is very clear and has never varied: we want to deliver an integrated offer, based on European technology and European supply chain, to contribute to energy independence, security of supply and energy transition."

Thierry Deschaux, managing director of EDF's representative office in Poland added: "Cooperation between Polish and French companies for EPR projects in Poland, steadily built over the years by EDF, will enable a significant shift and increase in the capabilities of the Polish industry. With 66 Polish companies already pre-qualified by EDF, we are consolidating our Polish localisation strategy, and are confident we can raise this score to more than 100 by the end of this year."

Poland's Energy Policy for 2040 is based on three pillars: a just transition; a zero-emission energy system; and good air quality. The first 1-1.6 GWe nuclear unit is to be commissioned in 2033, with five more units, or 6-9 GWe, to follow by 2040. The coastal towns of Lubiatowo and Kopalino in Poland's Choczewo municipality have been named as the preferred location for the country's first large nuclear power plant.

In July last year, Westinghouse Electric Company announced the launch of front-end engineering and design (FEED) work - based on AP1000 technology - under a grant from the United States Trade and Development Agency "to progress" the nuclear energy programme in Poland. The country has already received an offer from Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power for the construction of six APR-1400 reactors.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News