Nuclear power plant based on US-Japanese Hitachi tech to be built in Poland

Based on the child technology of the General Electrics-Hitachi (GEH) known as BWRX-300, a nuclear power plant comprising small modular reactors is to be built in Poland, as announced on Tuesday by entrepreneurs Zygmunt Solorz and Michał Sołowow joining forces on the task.

The prospective power plant is to be established based on the assets of the Pątnów-Adamów-Konin Power Stations Group (ZE PAK), of which Mr Solorz is the chief shareholder. The ZE PAK envisages investment in four to six small modular reactors (SMR) 300 MW each.

As specified in the press release, sides to the initiative are to sign an agreement allowing for the establishment of a joint venture company carrying out business activities in the field of nuclear energy focused, in particular, on the GEH BWRX-300-based units or on other optimal US SMR technologies. The sides have earmarked the terrain of the Pątnów Power Station for their investment. The location has been carrying out activities that come down to the production of electric energy out of lignite extracted from nearby opencast mines.

The joint venture is to help Poland in its energy transformation. The press release read that the undertaking would be the most serious one in the field of nuclear energy and SMRs. It was also noted that thanks to the establishment of the joint venture company based on a part of the ZE PAK assets, the undertaking enjoys a high likelihood of completion and localisation along with the preexisting energy contribute to the favourable outlooks.

“The ZE PAK is Poland’s first lignite-based energy producer that does not only speak about its plans to phase out lignite clear but factually sticks to its word. We have built Poland’s largest photovoltaic company, we are planning to harness wind power, we are developing the hydrogen infrastructure. The investment in the atom is an astronomic opportunity for Poland, its inhabitants and companies for the accessibility to pure and cheap energy,” stressed Mr Solorz cited in the press release.

“If we want to continue to develop fast, become ever reacher a society and attract foreign investments, we must have access to affordable energy,” Mr Sołowow added. The role of his chemical company Synthos in the venture is twofold, firstly as an investor, secondly as a technology provider.

The ZE PAK board head Piotr Woźny recalled that Pątnów was a site specified in the governmental Programme for Polish Nuclear Energy. “Our plans do not compete with those of the state. The SMRs won’t replace the large energy infrastructure of the state but could provide perfect complementation and gradually substitute part of the power produced from fossil fuels. They could, in the near future, help eliminate the lack of available power in the energy system, which results from shutting down more cole-based plants and the increasing demand for electric energy,” Mr Woźny said.

In Autumn 2019, the Sołowow-controlled Synthos and the US-Japanese GEH signed a cooperation understanding for the research of possibilities of the construction of a power plant using GEH’s SMR technology. “Small modular reactors can play a significant role in the solving of challenges linked to the modernisation of Poland’s energy sector and reaching the required decarbonisation level,” Sołowow said at that point.

In August 2020, Synthos Green Energy became GEH Nuclear Energy’s strategic partner in the range of BWRX-300 reactor development and construction. The BWRX-300 belongs to the boiling water reactors (BWR) family that GE has been producing for the past 50 years. Due to its small dimensions, it falls under the category of SMRs. The BWRX project envisages the electric power of 300 MW and the thermal power of 870 MW.

By the end of June 2021, Poland’s oil giant PKN Orlen and Synthos signed a framework agreement that laid down the rules for cooperation in the field of SMRs. The head of the Synthos’ board Zbigniew Warmuz said back then that according to his estimates the BMWRX-300 reactor could be constructed “sometime between 2027 and 2028”.

The head of Orlen Daniel Objatek felt that this type of reactor could be constructed in Poland in a matter of seven to ten years.