During the debate “Perspectives for the development of nuclear energy in Poland” organised as part of the Forum Wizja Rozwoju in Gdynia, representatives of KGHM Polska Miedź discussed the project to build small modular nuclear power plants which will allow the production of clean, renewable and cost-effective energy. The first such reactor of the copper company is to be put into operation in 2029.
As assessed by KGHM Polska Miedź expert Professor Ludwik Pieńkowski of AGH University of Science and Technology, the last decade brought a very dynamic development of reactor technologies. He added that the technology chosen by KGHM from the American company NuScale was safer and based on a completely different philosophy than large conventional reactors, which require tens of billions of zlotys to build. As he said, what is important here for the copper giant is modularity, and thus the possibility of gradually adding more reactor modules.
“The reactor core and core area are characterised by similar parameters as in large reactors. There are two such projects in Poland, which are one step away from launching the construction of the first commercial power units,” said Professor Pieńkowski. – The program in which KGHM participates, based on so-called light water reactors, is the most mature in three dimensions: technological, business and regulatory. KGHM plans to launch a 360 MW power unit as its first commercial installation in 2029. This technology enables the construction of a modular power unit with a capacity tailored to needs – from 300 MW to 900 MW,” he noted.
As recalled by Piotr Podgórski, chief transformation officer of KGHM Polska Miedź, the copper company, which is the second-largest consumer of electricity in Poland, in February this year chose the design of small modular reactors (SMRs) of the American company NuScale – the only company with an SDA (Standard Design Approval) license granted by the American regulator. Energy from SMRs is to power the copper company’s production divisions. Podgórski explained that the Lubin company’s decision to choose SMR, which was made in 2021, in addition to business reasons, is also expected to contribute to reducing CO2 emissions in Poland – by up to 8 million tonnes per year.
“KGHM is a whole technical line which must have electricity ensured at the appropriate level – hence this decision,” he said
“KGHM’s core business is copper, gold and silver, not only in Poland, but also in Chile, for example, and not power generation. What is important is to ensure stable, constant, cheap and long-term electricity supply – we have the 360 MW we need,” – said Piotr Podgórski, chief transformation officer of KGHM Polska Miedź.
As he explained, the SMR module planned by KGHM is capable of generating 77 MW of electricity using a smaller, scalable and safer version of the reactor. And the entire plant could consist of up to six modules.