State treasury-owned enterprises rely on nuclear energy. KGHM and Orlen want to invest in SMR reactors. It is still an innovative technology that has not yet been used in a civilian way.
These types of reactors operate successfully in nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. Therefore, the announcements by the State Assets Ministry and the KGHM that the first SMR reactors at the KGHM will be available within eight years is a surprise.
SMR KGHM reactors in eight years? Experts doubt
According to experts, this is a very optimistic assumption. – That’s a really tight schedule. Assuming its feasibility requires a great deal of optimism. This is theoretically possible, but eight years is a short period. The 2030 deadline, mentioned by Michał Sołowow and Synthos, are very ambitious plans – comments on the statements of the KGHM and the Ministry of State Assets, energy journalist Jakub Wiech.
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Adam Ragowski of the Institute of Thermal Technology at Warsaw University of Technology has a similar opinion. – I will not be enthusiastic about this announcement and will not be too attached to these terms – Summarize the KGHM and MAP announcements.
KGHM will build four reactors with the US company NuScale. Although this company currently has the most advanced work in SMR reactors in the world, this does not mean that the entire investment will go smoothly.
NuScale will build the reactors. What experience does he have?
NuScale has already received pre-certification for an older version of this project. But this is only an optional first step in the United States. In the UK, this process can take up to seven years. There is no such thing as a certificate in Poland. Adam Ragosky explains that approvals must be issued for a specific power plant at a specific location.
Jacob Wich also draws attention to the fact that so far this type of reactor has not been used civilly, so just preparing for its operation and developing a full working culture in such places can also be a challenge.
Adam Ragosky also points out that although the topic of SMR has appeared in the discussion about nuclear energy in other countries, no one has yet decided to implement this type of project.
No one has gone down this road yet. The implementation of the first project of such reactors by an American investor has been gradually postponed, and it is by no means certain that they will eventually be built – says Ragosky.
How much will small reactors help?
Experts also doubt whether this type of reactor, the construction of which was announced by KGHM, will have a real impact on improving the Polish energy mix. – He dreams of building a nuclear power plant when the energy it produces makes up at least a double proportion of Poland’s energy mix – comments Adam Ragowski. The expert also notes that the KGHM and NuScale reactors will be smaller than those that Synthos from General Electric and Hitachi are working on.
Projects such as those of KGHM or Sołowow with Solorz may improve Poland’s energy situation, but will not change it immediately. Energy-intensive entities such as Orlen and KGHM should look for alternative solutions. Building small reactors is also an idea for these entities to secure their energy needs in the future, when decarbonization will progress and natural gas will be more expensive – adds Jacob Wich.
Poland needs a big nuclear power plant
Therefore, according to experts, it is necessary to implement the Polish nuclear energy program, which includes investments in large power plants, simultaneously with the initiatives of state-owned enterprises and private entrepreneurs. Only this may have a greater impact on energy prices in Poland.
The capacity of the small reactors will be of local importance in the first place. As long as there are not many of them, they will have no effect on the overall general situation in Poland – summarizes Jacob Wich.
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