Two separate agreements have been announced between Polish companies and North American small modular reactor (SMR) vendors and suppliers. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Cameco, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), GEH SMR Technologies Canada, Ltd and Synthos Green Energy (SGE) will see those companies evaluate a potential Canadian supply chain for a fleet of BWRX-300 reactors in Poland. Separately, NuScale Power, KGHM Polska Miedź SA (KGHM) and Piela Business Engineering (PBE) are to explore the deployment of NuScale's SMR technology to repower or repurpose existing coal-fired power plants.

GEH's vision for BWRX-500 (Image: GEH)

SGE is a member of the Synthos group, one of the biggest producers of chemical raw materials in Poland, which is interested in obtaining affordable, on-demand, carbon-free electricity from a dependable, dedicated source. SGE and GEH have previously agreed to collaborate on the potential deployment of the BWRX-300 in Poland.

SGE President Rafał Kasprów said the company is, in addition to the MoU, working closely with GEH to identify "supply chain opportunities" in Poland that complement the export capabilities being developed in Canada for the BWRX-300.

Uranium supplier Cameco also supplies uranium refining and conversion services to the global nuclear industry and in July this year agreed with GEH and Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas to explore several areas of cooperation to advance the commercialisation and deployment of BWRX-300 SMRs in Canada and around the world.

"We believe nuclear energy will play a major role in helping countries and companies around the world achieve their net-zero emission targets," Cameco President and CEO Tim Gitzel said. "This MoU is a great example of the kind of innovative solutions businesses like Synthos Green Energy are exploring and how SMRs could contribute to industry-driven efforts to decarbonise."

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH's US Nuclear Regulatory Commission-certified ESBWR.

Repurposing coal plants


(Image: @NuScale_Power)
The MoU announced today by NuScale Power, copper and silver producer KGHM and business engineering advisory consultancy PBE will see the three companies explore the deployment of NuScale's SMR technology as a repowering or repurposing solution for existing coal-fired power plants and electricity and heat for KGHM's industrial processes in Poland. "This agreement demonstrates international interest in utilising NuScale's SMR technology to produce clean, reliable, and affordable energy," the companies said.

Under the MoU, NuScale will support KGHM and PBE's examination which will include an analysis of technical, economic, legal, regulatory, financial, and organisational factors.

NuScale Chairman and CEO John Hopkins said the retirement of ageing coal-fired power plants is leading to changes in power generation, infrastructure needs, and workforce opportunity. "NuScale's SMR technology is an ideal flexible clean energy solution to repurpose retiring coal fuelled power plants and most importantly, retain and retrain the skilled power plant workforce already in place in these Polish communities," he said.

Marcin Chludziński, president of KGHM's management board, said climate change is forcing "decisive actions", with the impact already being felt financially through increases in energy prices. "The construction of small nuclear reactors by 2030 is a solid declaration and an element of our energy transformation. We are pioneers in Poland, as we expect that the first of our nuclear power plants will come online in 2029," he said.

"SMR technology will not only help us to protect the environment but will also substantially reduce the costs of operating our business," he added. "This is one of the recently-announced initiatives aimed at growing the company, and we plan to generate power commercially in order to assist in the green transformation of Poland and bring down costs for the average household."

Modular energy sources will play an "exceptionally important role" in the energy sector, PBE Managing Partner Piotr Piela said. The SMR, he said, is not only a crucial component "fitting energy transformation of Poland and many others fossil fuels-dependent EU countries", but also a 'technology of common interest' essential to the successful implementation of the "Pan European Green Deal".

NuScale's SMR features a 77 MWe Power Module using pressurised water reactor technology, deployed in power plants housing up to four, six or 12 individual power modules. In August 2020, it became the first, and so far, only, SMR design to receive approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Polish chemical producer Ciech recently announced it will consider nuclear technologies to replace coal burnt for power and process heat in its plants, and signed a Letter of Intent to cooperate with SGE.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 24 September 2021
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