Environmental permitting of Polish SMR plant progresses

6 February 2024

Poland’s General Director for Environmental Protection (GDOS - Generalna Dyrekcja Ochrony Srodowiska) has issued a provision specifying the requirements for the scope of the environmental report for construction of a small modular reactor (SMR) in Monowski Ponds in Lesser Poland. Orlen Synthos Green Energy (OSGE) can now begin environmental and siting research for its planned SMR project involving GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's BWRX-300, for which it holds exclusive rights in Poland.

In 2023, OSGE shortlisted seven locations for further geological surveys to host SMR plants – Ostroleka, Wloclawek, Stawy Monowskie, Dabrowa Górnicza, Nowa Huta, Tarnobrzeg Special Economic Zone and Warsaw.It subsequently applied to the Ministry of Climate & Environment for decisions-in-principle to construct plants at six locations, omitting Warsaw. The ministry issued decisions-in-principle for the plants in December. opening the way for OSGE to apply for a number of further administrative arrangements on siting and construction.

OSGE applied to GDOS in May 2023 to determine the scope of the report on the environmental impact of the construction for the Stawy Monowskie plant. It has also submitted applications for the planned plants in Ostroleka and Wloclawek. The issue of the order by GDOS enables the OSGE to start environmental and location research at the Stawa Monowskie site to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment Report. This is estimated to take up to two years.

The GDOS resolution “allows us to maintain our assumed project implementation schedules and gives chances for completing the investment when the Polish economy will need zero-emission and stable energy sources the most,” said OSGE President Rafal Kasprów. “Preparation of a report on the environmental impact of a nuclear investment is one of the most important elements of the investment process. And also one of the most difficult.

GDOS has indicated the main areas that the report will cover, including: conducting a natural inventory, identifying possible sources of cooling water, technological solutions that affect nuclear safety and radiological protection, and indicating how the power plant will be integrated with the energy transmission network.

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 ESBWR which has US Nuclear Regulatory Commission certification. As a result of design simplification, GEH claims the BWRX-300 will require significantly less capital cost per MW compared with other SMR designs. GEH says the BWRX-300 is being designed to reduce construction and operating costs below other nuclear power generation technologies. It will leverage a combination of existing fuel, plant simplifications, proven components as well as a design based on an already licensed reactor.

Image: Site of the planned SMR power plant in Stawy Monowskie (courtesy of OSGE)

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