Polish copper giant signs contract with US company for small nuclear reactors – EURACTIV.com
The Polish copper giant KGHM signed a letter of intent with NuScale Power from the USA on Thursday (23 September) to develop at least four small nuclear reactors for the operation of its power plants.
“Climate change is forcing us to act decisively,” said Marcin Chludziński, CEO of the mining company, in a statement.
“We are pioneers in Poland and expect the first of our nuclear power plants to go online in 2029,” he said.
KGHM is one of the largest copper and silver producers in the world and the second largest consumer of electricity in Poland, the most coal-dependent country in the European Union.
Chludzinski said that the memorandum provides for the construction of at least four blocks, each with a capacity of 77 megawatts. The project could include additional units with a total capacity of 1 gigawatt.
“The shutdown of aging coal-fired power plants is changing the way we produce electricity, infrastructure needs and labor opportunities,” said NuScale Chairman John Hopkins.
He said the company’s reactor technology is “an ideal flexible clean energy solution to reuse decommissioned coal-fired power plants and, most importantly, to retain and retrain those already trained.”
Poland depends on coal for about 70% of its electricity generation, but has promised to close all of its coal mines by 2049, in line with the European Union’s carbon neutrality goals.
Due to its heavy reliance on coal, Poland has some of the highest energy costs in the EU due to CO2 emissions under the bloc’s emissions trading system.
Several Polish companies have shown interest in small nuclear reactor technology in recent months.
The global nuclear industry is increasingly turning its attention to small modular reactors (SMRs) and moving away from larger, more powerful structures.
SMRs were designed to be built on factory assembly lines and then transported to power plants.
Two Polish billionaires, Michal Solowow and Zygmunt Solorz, announced a private project last month to build four to six small nuclear reactors with an output of 300 megawatts each.
To support the energy transition, the Polish state is also planning to build up to 9 gigawatts of nuclear energy with large reactors and is expected to choose a foreign partner in 2022.