Mr Obajtek is the latest of a number of high-profile businessmen and entrepreneurs to announce their support for SMRs. He said in an interview with Warsaw-based Biznes Alert that partner company Synthos has an agreement with GE Hitachi, the supplier of the BWRX-300 reactor, and “we have been working with them since the beginning and will continue to work with them”.
Over the last few months, a number of large Polish industrial firms, including private energy group ZE Pak, chemicals giant Ciech and Synthos Green Energy have signed agreements to look into the option of deploying SMRs to meet private energy needs.
Synthos Green Energy, a subsidiary of Synthos, which is among Poland’s largest chemical groups, has signed a number of agreements on SMR and microreactor (MMR) development with companies including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Tractabel and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation.
In June, Orlen and Synthos signed an agreement to cooperate on the potential development and implementation of SMRs and MMRs with the goal of securing low-carbon industrial heat and support the development of Orlen’s hydrogen strategy.
Mr Obajtek said Orlen has gas-fired power plants and intends to build more in Ostrołęka, Gdańsk and Grudziądz, but gas is a transitional fuel and “we are looking at the long, strategic perspective”.
“This is an opportunity for nuclear power, including SMRs,” he said. “We recognize that GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has not yet built its first small reactor, but the pre-certification process is already underway.”
He called for appropriate legislation on SMRs to “reflect the new reality”. He said Orlen will start with scientific and technological cooperation, which will then translate into the investment process after certification [of the reactor technology].
Separately, the Polish government wants to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity based on proven, large-scale, pressurised water nuclear reactors of the Generation III and III+ design. Commercial operation of a first nuclear reactor unit in a proposed set of six is earmarked for 2033. Warsaw has not yet announced a technology or investor tender for the project.