Polish metals company KGHM Polska Miedź has signed a letter of intent with the Legnica Special Economic Zone (LSEZ) to pursue cooperation in research and development projects and investment initiatives related to the small nuclear reactors (SMRs). The signatories will discuss the possibilities of potential joint involvement in the implementation of investment projects to progress SMR deployment.

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 deploy a first NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant in Poland as early as 2029. 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. 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.

In July 2022, KGHM submitted an application to Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA – Państwowa Agencja Atomistyki) to evaluate NuScale's SMR technology and prepare a site study. In April this year, the company submitted an application to the Ministry of Climate & Environment for a decision of principle for the construction of a six-module VOYGR SMR in Poland.

Cooperation between KGHM and LSEZ will include analysis of available technologies for SMRs and investigating the best practices for conducting research & measurements in order to identify the best geological and geotechnical conditions for SMR sites. Joint actions will also be taken to support the development of SMRs in Poland, including changes in legislation related to public financing of such projects.

KGHM Polska Miedź Management Board President Tomasz Zdzikot said the aim is to prove that SMRs “are not only a vision for the future, but also a real answer to the energy needs of large industry”. Cooperation with the LSEZ a step toward implementation of this aim, he added.

Mateusz Wodejko, Vice-President of KGHM for Financial Affairs, said that, for KGHM, nuclear energy means energy independence and lower costs. “The investment in SMRs will allow the company to maintain its business advantage on a global scale. The introduction of nuclear energy technology, based on small modules, also supports the energy transformation of the Polish economy.”

LESZ President Przemysław Bożek said: “Available, safe, ecological and price-stabilised energy is our goal, which I believe can be achieved even faster in partnership with KGHM. It also strengthens the competitive advantage of our subregion as a place not only good for investing, but also stable, which is especially important for business. We have chosen the direction of new technologies and we are consistently implementing it.”

LSEZ seeks to attract investors to south-western Poland, in the Dolnośląskie Voivodeship. Currently, LSEZ has 83 investors from around the world. In July 2022, LSEZ signed a letter of intent with US SMR developer Last Energy and Poland's DB Energy for construction of a power plant comprising 10 SMRs with a combined capacity of 200 MWe.

Image: Representatives from KGHM Polska Miedź and the Legnica Special Economic Zone formalise the agreement to pursue cooperation in R&D projects and investment initiatives related to SMRs (courtesy of LSEZ)