The Slovak Ministry of Economy and power utility Slovenské Elektrárne (SE) have signed a memorandum of cooperation with several companies to support the development of small modular reactors (SMRs), by applying for funding from the USA's Project Phoenix.
The companies include US Steel Košice, the Slovak Electricity Transmission System, VUJE, the Office of Nuclear Supervision and the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava.
The Ministry of Economy and SE will jointly apply for a grant of €2m ($2.16m) from the US government's Project Phoenix, which was announced by US Climate Envoy John Kerry at COP27 in 2022. This - it aims to "accelerate the global clean energy transition by providing technical assistance to support decision-making on pursuing the conversion of one or more coal-fired power plants to secure and safe zero-carbon" SMR nuclear energy generation. SE owns coal-fired power plants in Vojany and Nováky.
Project Pheonix invited countries in Eastern Europe and the Eurasian region to apply to participate by 15 June 2023. The project is part of the US Department of State's Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Program in cooperation with the US Department of Commerce's Small Modular Reactor Public-Private Program, "which aims to promote transatlantic cooperation to deploy SMRs in Europe and Eurasia".
Minister of Economy Peter Dovhun said a key priority was to prepare a gradual and reasonable plan to secure energy supplies with affordability and climate commitments. “When we look at Slovakia's energy mix, which our resources provide us, from this point of view, nuclear energy belongs to this mix."
Branislav Strýcek, CEO of Slovenské Elektrárne, said: "Each of the signatories of the memorandum possesses important capacities, which we are combining in order to be able to fulfil these goals. We believe that building new technologies, including small modular reactors, is part of the solution to our energy needs.” While renewable sources are important “it is nuclear technologies that ensure stable and safe supplies to the grid” He added that SMRs. are not intended to replace existing nuclear sources. “They should replace coal-fired power plants and be another source of a stable and carbon-free energy mix and Slovakia's self-sufficiency."
Slovakia operates four nuclear power units at two NPP sites - Mochovce 1&2 and Bohunice 3&4 - which generate half its electricity. Mochovce 3 was connected to the grid earlier in February and Mochovce 4, still under construction, is expected to be connected next year. In February Jadrová Energetická Spolocnost Slovenska (JESS) applied to the Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority for a siting permit for a new nuclear power plant near the existing Bohunice plant.
Image courtesy of Slovenské Elektrárne