Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowy (PEJ) has applied to Poland's Ministry of Climate for a decision-in-principle on the construction of the country's first large NPP, while metals company KGHM Polska Miedz has applied to the Ministry for a decision-in-principle on construction of a small modular reactor (SMR) power plant. The applications came after the adoption of an updated nuclear energy law allowing such applications to be submitted at the beginning of the process. This ensures state support for any project before any significant investment is made. A decision-in-principle formally confirms that investment in a plant is in line with public interest and the state policies, including energy policy.

The decision will enable PEJ, a special purpose vehicle wholly owned by the State Treasury, to apply for subsequent administrative decisions, including a siting and a construction permit. PEJ’s application includes a description of project characteristics, such as the maximum total installed capacity, the planned operating period and details of the technology to be used in the construction of the plant.

PEJ 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 acting President Lukasz Mlynarkiewicz said the application represents another important step “towards obtaining all the necessary administrative approvals to begin construction of Poland's first nuclear power plant”. The application was submitted on the earliest date possible, “as we are keen to significantly accelerate the pace of implementation of this key project” and 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, Poland announced that six large pressurised water reactors with a combined installed capacity of 6-9 GWe could be built by 2040 to reduce its reliance on coal. Construction of the first NPP is to start in 2026, with the first 1.0-1.6 GWe reactor being commissioned in 2033. Subsequent units will be implemented every 2-3 years. The coastal towns of Lubiatowo and Kopalino in Choczewo municipality in Pomerania province were named as the preferred location for the first plant.

"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.”

In November 2022, the government selected Westinghouse to supply the plant. PEJ and Westinghouse signed a Bridge Contract in February, covering 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 local regulations. The contract 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 signed a letter of intent to cooperate on a NPP project in Patnow based on South Korean APR1400 reactors.

The application by copper and silver producer KGHM Polska Miedz is for a SMR. KGHM said that, until completion of the administrative procedure, it will not provide information on the course of the proceedings or details of the application. KGHM said it is one of the largest Polish companies and at the same time one of the largest energy consumers in the country. “That is why our involvement in energy projects, among which the nuclear project is of primary importance, is obvious, said Tomasz Zdzikot, President of the KGHM Management Board. “This is a project which will guarantee the stability of our operations in the future.”

In 2022, KGHM signed an agreement with US NuScale Power for preliminary work representing the first step in the process of implementing SMR technology within the business activities of the KGHM Group. The target is to deploying a first NuScale Voygr SMR power plant in Poland as early as 2029. KGHM is investigating possible sites.

KGHM wants to explore the deployment of SMR technology to repurpose or replace existing coal-fired power plants and provide electricity and heat for its industrial processes. KGHM is also looking more generally to diversify its energy sources. By 2030, 50% of the electricity used by KGHM will come from its own sources, including renewables. The Sierra Gorda mine in Chile is already powered by 100% with renewable energy.

In July 2022, KGHM submitted an application to Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency (NAEA) to evaluate NuScale's SMR technology and prepare a site study. Under a task order signed in September, NuScale will continue to support KGHM's application to the NAEA through activities including drafting additional preliminary safety analysis reports and coordinating with the NAEA. The task order also sets the stage for the subsequent tasks in the Early Works Agreement as proposed by NuScale. The VOYGR will have six modules, each with an installed capacity of 77 MWe. NuScale's SMR technology gained approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in August 2020.

Date: Friday, 21 April 2023
Original article: neimagazine.com/news/newspolands-nuclear-plans-move-forward-with-formal-applications-10775523