Polish plans for large and small reactors progress

17 April 2023

Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe (PEJ) has submitted an application to Poland's Ministry of Climate for a decision-in-principle on the construction of the country's first large nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, Orlen Synthos Green Energy has announced seven potential sites for the country's first small modular reactors (SMRs).

Representatives from US financial institutions EXIM Bank and DFC, as well as Orlen Synthos Green Energy announced the signing of letter of intent for financing (Image: Orlen Synthos Green Energy)

The decision-in-principle will formally confirm that the investment in the plant is in line with the public interest and the policies pursued by the state, including energy policy. The decision will also empower the investor, PEJ, to apply for a number of further administrative decisions, including a siting decision and, later, a construction permit.

PEJ - a special purpose vehicle 100% owned by the State Treasury - said the submitted application includes a description of project characteristics, indicating the maximum total installed capacity, the planned operating period and details of the technology to be used in the construction of the plant.

It said the description provided was "in line with government documents, including the resolution of the Council of Ministers of 2 November 2022, recognising the need to build a nuclear power plant with a capacity of up to 3750 MWe in the area of the communes of Choczewo or Gniewino and Krokowa and based on US AP1000 reactor technology".

It added: "An important element of the application for the decision-in-principle is the justification of the importance of the implementation of this project for securing the electricity demand in Poland. The rationale also emphasises the compatibility of PEJ's project with strategic government documents, including Poland's Energy Policy until 2040 and the European Union's climate policy."

PEJ noted the application was submitted on the earliest possible date, once the amended special nuclear act legislating the development and execution of the project for nuclear power facilities and associated infrastructure came into force.

"The application for the decision-in-principle filed today represents another important step by Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe towards obtaining all the necessary administrative approvals to begin construction of Poland's first nuclear power plant," said PEJ acting President Łukasz Młynarkiewicz.

"We are submitting it on the earliest date possible, as we are keen to significantly accelerate the pace of implementation of this key project for our country. We are also aware of the significance of this project and the importance of the further stages before us, which we will implement according to the approved schedule."

In September 2021, it was announced that six large pressurised water reactors with a combined installed capacity of 6-9 GWe could be built by 2040 as part of Poland's plan to reduce its reliance on coal. According to the adopted schedule, the construction of the first nuclear power plant will start in 2026, with the first reactor - with a capacity of 1.0-1.6 GWe - being commissioned in 2033. Subsequent units will be implemented every 2-3 years. The coastal towns of Lubiatowo and Kopalino in Poland's Choczewo municipality in the province of Pomerania have been named as the preferred location for the country's first large nuclear power plant.

In November 2022, the Polish government selected Westinghouse for the country's first nuclear power plant. In February, PEJ and Westinghouse signed a Bridge Contract, which covers works in ten main areas, including: development of a detailed delivery model; preparation of a security assessment and a quality programme; and also identification of potential suppliers with a focus on Polish companies. Westinghouse will prepare a list of requirements necessary for the execution of the investment, including adjusting the AP1000 technology to meet all the local regulations. The contract also assumes the preparation of the principles of external financing for the project.

Meanwhile, Poland's ZE PAK, Polska Grupa Energetyczna and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power have signed a letter of intent to cooperate on a nuclear power plant project in Patnow, in central Poland, assessing the viability of building South Korean APR1400 reactors on the site.

"The implementation of the Polish Nuclear Power Programme is one of the greatest challenges Poland has faced in recent decades, both in terms of complexity and the competencies it demands," said Mateusz Berger, Government Plenipotentiary for Strategic Energy Infrastructure. "The submission of an application for the decision-in-principle for the construction of the first nuclear power plant marks an important stage showing the maturity of the project implemented in Pomerania".

Potential SMR sites named

Orlen Synthos Green Energy announced that after looking at "tens" of potential sites in Poland for the construction of SMRs, it has shortlisted the seven most optimum locations for further geological surveys.

The locations are: Ostrołęka, Włocławek, Stawy Monowskie, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Nowa Huta, Tarnobrzeg Special Economic Zone and Warsaw. The company said these are locations with, among others, "high energy-intensive production plants, as well as locations that are optimal for heating system purposes".

"Once the ongoing surveys and preliminary consultations with local governments are completed, over the next two years Orlen Synthos Green Energy will thoroughly analyse the possibility of building the first small modular block near seven locations," the company said.

"By 2030, we plan to build at least one modern and completely safe nuclear block in Poland," said PKN Orlen CEO and President Daniel Obajtek. "We have picked several dozen potential sites for this strategic project. We see a lot of interest from local governments, which are aware of the associated benefits. In the first stage, we selected seven most promising sites. However, since approval from the local communities is of fundamental importance to us, an open dialogue with residents will be key in making the decision on final locations."

In December 2021, GE Hitachi, BWXT Canada and Synthos Green Energy (SGE) signed a Letter of Intent to cooperate in deploying BWRX-300 SMRs in Poland. Orlen Synthos Green Energy - a joint venture between chemical producers SGE and PKN Orlen - submitted an application to Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency on 8 July last year for the assessment of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's BWRX-300, for which it holds the exclusive right in Poland.

The announcement of the site selections came as two US government institutions declared USD4 billion of financial support in the implementation of the BWRX-300 in Poland.

US Ambassador Mark Brzezinski said the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank - the USA's official export credit agency - and the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) - the country's development bank - have signed letters of intent declaring USD3 billion and USD1 billion, respectively, to finance the construction of the first two power plants to be developed by Orlen Synthos Green Energy.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News