ORLEN Synthos Green Energy, a joint venture of PKN ORLEN and Synthos Green Energy, invests in zero-emission nuclear energy and will provide Poles with access to safe, cheap and clean energy, as well as attractive new workplaces
The company has already examined dozens of potential sites for the construction of small nuclear units. Of these, at the current stage, seven optimal ones have been selected, where further geological studies will be carried out. Once the potential has been confirmed, priority will be given to inviting dialogue with the local communities in each location. Only after an agreement has been reached will decisions be taken on the implementation of a safe and environmentally friendly investment.
According to its strategy, PKN ORLEN wants to build at least one modern and fully safe SMR in Poland by 2030. There is a big interest from local governments, aware of the benefits it will bring. Each unit means ca. 100 jobs in the power plant itself and ca. 1,000 in the region, as well as safe and cheap energy and additional revenues to local budgets.
Small reactors progress
As a result of ongoing studies and preliminary consultations with local governments, ORLEN Synthos Green Energy will spend the next two years analysing in detail the possibility of building the first small nuclear unit near seven towns: Ostrołęka, Włocławek, Stawy Monowskie, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Nowa Huta, the Tarnobrzeg – Stalowa Wola SEZ and Warsaw. These are locations with, among other things, production facilities with a high level of energy intensity, as well as those that are optimal for district heating.
Small modular reactors (SMRs) provide safe and cheap energy
SMRs are units that meet the highest safety standards. They have mechanisms that automatically trigger cooling procedures so that after an emergency shutdown the unit can safely continue for days without human intervention. Such solutions enable fully safe operation and easier location finding for SMRs. This is also facilitated by the small size of such a plant, representing about 10% of the land required for a large nuclear power plant. An SMR power unit consisting of a reactor building, an engine room building, a control room building, a radioactive waste building and an engine room maintenance building would only take up the area of a football field.
Small-scale nuclear power provides access to cheap energy. The estimated cost of producing 1 MWh of electricity from a small unit will ultimately be many times lower than for gas-fired power. One installation will secure the needs of approximately 300,000 to 350,000 households. The use of modern, American BWRX300 technology is also a guarantee of high efficiency. SMR will be able to produce energy continuously for 60 years, with the possibility of extending production to 90 years.
“The US stands by our allies. Poland is currently looking for more energy solutions. It needs a secure energy source to protect itself from the harmful influence of Russia. Poland needs a clean energy source to meet its climate commitments. It also needs a reliable energy source to drive the economy and create well-paid jobs. I am convinced that safe, clean and reliable nuclear power from GE Hitachi Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) is an important part of the solution,” stresses Mark Brzezinski, US Ambassador to Poland.
Investment in small-scale nuclear power enables a rapid and efficient transition. Modern installations will guarantee fully safe production of clean energy. Due to their environmental neutrality, many nuclear units around the world are being built near large cities or their centres. One example is SMR in Darlington, Canada, just 5 km from Oshawa, a city of 170,000 inhabitants. First Polish unit using BWRX300 technology, built by ORLEN Synthos Green Energy, will be the second of its kind in the world, after the aforementioned Darlington, Canada. The company has exclusive rights to this technology in Poland.
“I am convinced that the transformation of the Polish energy mix from a coal-based economy to a zero-emission one, using nuclear energy, as well as the promotion of district heating and industrial heating will require a fleet of BWRX300 units in Poland. Thanks to their modernised design, they are the safest SMR technology currently available in the world “, says Jay Wileman, President of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.
New business opportunities and workplaces
At least several dozen Polish companies involved in the supply chain will be involved in ORLEN Synthos Green Energy’s investment. This means that nearly half of the expenditure associated with the construction of the first SMR will remain in the country. What is more, the investment will enable the creation of hundreds of new jobs in many industries. In addition to high- and medium-skilled jobs in the power plant itself, residents of the towns and cities where the project will be built will also find employment in construction or transport work. It is estimated that one unit will provide around 100 jobs for local communities in the power plant itself, while each unit will generate another 5-6 jobs in the surrounding area, not counting construction jobs. The availability of cheap energy and the certainty of its supply will be an incentive for investors. In turn, local governments will gain additional budget revenue. This will allow them to subsidise, among other things, healthcare facilities, kindergartens, schools, community centres, and other initiatives important to local residents.
More than a dozen countries around the world are investing in the SMR technology, including the US, the UK, France, as well as the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, and Romania.