Polish chemicals group Synthos and energy group ZE PAK on 31 August signed an investment agreement to consider construction of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) BWRX-300 small modular reactors (SMRs) at the site of ZE PAK's Patnów coal-fired power plant in eastern Poland. Synthos, which has exclusive rights in Poland for GEH's SMRs, will act as both an investor and technology provider.
In 2019, Synthos Green Energy (part of the Synthos Group) signed a cooperation agreement with GEH for the construction of the BWRX-300 reactor in Poland. The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems, based on GEH's US-licensed, 1520 MWe Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor design. In October 2020, Synthos began a regulatory dialogue with the Polish National Atomic Energy Agency on the possibility of building the BWRX-300 in Poland, with the support of US utility Exelon Generation, GEH and Finland's Fortum Power and Heat Oy. In December 2020, Synthos completed a deployment feasibility study for a fleet of GEH BWRX-300 SMRs in Poland. The study was prepared by US power utility Exelon.
Synthos said joint action by Poland’s two largest private entrepreneurs - Zygmunt Solorz (ZE PAK) and Michal Solowow (Synthos), may help Poland in its energy transition from dirty to green energy and provide Polish citizens with clean and cheap energy. ZE PAK plans to invest in 4 to 6 BWRX-300 SMRs. "We need cheap and clean energy to develop as a State and society. Atom is a clean and ecological source of energy and this project brought us together with Michal,” said Solorz. “A common goal, that is a clean and competitive Poland, is worth the challenge and I am convinced that together we can achieve it."
He added that ZE PAK is the first coal-fired power producer in Poland that not only says it has a plan to move away from coal, but is doing so. “We have built the largest photovoltaic farm in Poland, we plan to use wind energy, we are developing hydrogen infrastructure. Investment in the atom is a gigantic opportunity for Poland, its people and businesses to access clean and cheap energy. Poland needs diverse, ecological sources of electricity and heat, both for all individual and corporate consumers."
Solowow said global warming is an unfortunate reality making deep decarbonisation a necessity driven not only by concern for the planet, but also by real economic needs and cost efficiency. “The obvious answer to this crisis is nuclear technology - modern, but nevertheless based on proven past solutions. Poland is the manufacturing hub of Europe, which requires emission-free and stable sources of energy. If we want to continue developing at a fast pace and become a more affluent society, and attract further foreign investment to us, we must have access to attractively priced energy. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to implement this project together with an outstanding and experienced Polish entrepreneur and colleague, Zygmunt Solorz."
"Patnów is the location indicated in the government's Polish Nuclear Power Programme. Our plans are not in competition with those of the state - SMRs will not replace the state's large-scale power generation, but they may be an excellent supplement to it and gradually replace some of the power generated from fossil fuels,” said ZE PAK CEO Piotr Wozny. “In the near future they may help compensate for the lack of available capacity in the power system, resulting from the decommissioning of subsequent coal-fired units and increasing demand for electricity."
The two companies intend to cooperate by establishing a joint venture to carry out activities in the field of nuclear energy, in particular by building power generation units based GEH BWRX-300 reactors, or other optimal American SMR technologies. The planned investment in SMR units will be localised at the Patnów Power Plant site. This site has been generating electricity from lignite from nearby opencast mine for several decades.
The ZE PAK Group consists of three coal-fired power plants: Patnów I Power Plant, Patnów II Power Plant and Konin Power Plant.
In October 2020, ZE PAK decided to adopt a strategy, according to which the last electricity produced from coal will be generated at the end of this decade. In the coming years, ZE PAK will generate more energy from renewable energy sources. An important direction of the new strategy is the production and use of hydrogen.
In November 2020, Synthos signed a cooperation agreement with Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), which is developing the high-temperature gas-cooled Micro Modular Reactor (MMR). USNC and Synthos jointly applied to the Polish Ministry of Development for financing from the IPCEI mechanism (Important Projects of Common European Interest) for projects within the scope of the value chain of hydrogen technologies and systems. The goal of the joint project is the development of an economically efficient, zero-emission, high-temperature heat and power source for the production of hydrogen on an industrial scale. In June 3031, Synthos also signed an agreement with petrochemical firm PKN Orlen to cooperate on MMRs and SMRs and to jointly research and explore the feasibility of deploying such reactors at Orlen's production plants in Poland.