Decision-in-principle for Polish SMR power plant

13 July 2023

Polish copper and silver producer KGHM Polska Miedź SA's plan to construct a power plant based on NuScale Power's small modular reactor (SMR) has been approved by the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

A model of a NuScale SMR (Image: KGHM)

KGHM lodged an application on 14 April - the same day that Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe (PEJ) applied for a decision-in-principle on the construction of Poland's first large-scale nuclear power plant. Later that month, Orlen Synthos Green Energy applied for a decision-in-principle on the construction of power plants based on GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's BWRX-300 at six locations.

KGHM said its application was prepared partly on the basis of the project documentation that has already received final certification in the USA.

The decision-in-principle now issued by the ministry is a general opinion on selected conditions enabling the construction of a VOYGR modular nuclear power plant with a capacity of 462 MWe consisting of six modules, each with a capacity of 77 MWe.

The decision-in-principle represents official state approval for the planned investment in accordance with the assumptions and concept presented by the company. It is the first decision in the process of administrative permits for investments in nuclear power facilities in Poland that an investor may apply for. Obtaining it entitles KGHM to apply for a number of further administrative arrangements, such as a siting decision or construction licence.

"Our goal is safe, ecological and price-stable energy, which will allow us to maintain KGHM's business advantage on a global scale," said KGHM President Tomasz Zdzikot. "In the case of involvement in nuclear energy, we have strong support from the Ministry of State Assets and now the approval of the Ministry of Climate and Environment. This is important, because the introduction of nuclear technology in our country, based on small modules, also supports the energy transformation of the Polish economy."

In February 2022, KGHM signed a definitive agreement with NuScale Power of the USA to initiate work towards deploying a first NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant in Poland as early as 2029. In July last year, KGHM submitted an application to Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency (NAEA) to evaluate NuScale's SMR technology and prepare a site study. Under a task order signed in September, NuScale will continue to support KGHM's application to the NAEA through activities including drafting additional preliminary safety analysis reports and coordinating with the NAEA. The task order also sets the stage for the subsequent tasks in the Early Works Agreement as proposed by NuScale to KGHM.

NuScale's SMR technology is the first to have gained approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in August 2020. NuScale offers VOYGR plants in four, six and 12-module configurations.

KGHM aims to diversify its energy sources. By 2030, 50% of the electricity used by KGHM will come from its own sources, including nuclear and renewables.

The announcement of KGHM's receipt of a decision-in-principle came the day after the Ministry of Climate and Environment gave a decision-in-principle for PEJ to construct Poland's first large nuclear power plant. That plant, comprising three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, will be built in Pomerania.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News