ZE PAK, the largest private energy group in Poland, and Synthos Green Energy said they have signed an investment agreement to explore building GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) BWRX-300 plants or “other optimal American SMR technologies”.
ZE PAK is owned by billionaire Zygmunt Solorz and Synthos Green Energy by former rally drive Michal Solowow. Synthos Green Energy is a subsidiary of Synthos, a manufacturer of synthetic rubber and one of the biggest producers of chemical raw materials in Poland.
A statement said ZE PAK plans to invest in four to six SMR-type reactors with a capacity of 300 MW each. Mr Solorz said for several years he has been betting on clean and zero-carbon energy. “Solar, wind, hydrogen and nuclear are the most important energy sources we are investing in,” he said. “ZE PAK is the first coal-fired power producer in Poland that not only says it has a plan to move away from coal, but is actually moving away from it.”
In July, ZE PAK said it might be interested in investing in the construction of nuclear power plants in Poland and overseas as a way to transition away from fossil fuel generation.
ZE PAK’s chief executive officer Piotr Woźny said the SMR programme will not replace the government’s proposals for large-scale nuclear generation, but “may be an excellent supplement to it and gradually replace some of the power generated from fossil fuels”. Poland wants to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity. Commercial operation of a first nuclear reactor unit in a proposed set of six is planned for 2033.
GEH said it applauded the announcement and fully supports the vision to replace coal with carbon-free nuclear generation. “We agree that the BWRX-300 small modular reactor is ideally suited for this application and we look forward to broadening our partnership with Synthos Green Energy to help Poland achieve its decarbonisation goals,” the company said on social media.
In October 2020 GEH and Synthos said they had begun discussions with Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency about a potential BWRX-300 small modular reactor project.
GEH and Synthos announced in October 2019 an agreement to collaborate on potential deployment applications for the BWRX-300 in Poland.
The BWRX-300 is a 300-MW water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems. It leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH’s US NRC-certified ESBWR (Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor).