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A small atom in the center of giants’ attention. There are applications to the National Atomic Energy Agency

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KGHM and Orlen Synthos Green Energy submitted applications to the National Atomic Energy Agency for the assessment of the SMR technology. Under this abbreviation, which means “small modular reactor”, there is a device that, according to its supporters, is to become the basis of the energy industry of the future.

Little reactors are expected to have many advantages over conventional nuclear power plants. They are to be cheaper, safer and build incomparably faster. In just 13 years, there will be even a thousand of them all over the world.

Global energy must change, and change quickly. Will small nuclear reactors help? READ MORE >>>

The first application from KGHM

The president of KGHM Polska Miedź, Marcin Chludziński, announced on Friday that the company had submitted an application to the National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA) for an assessment of the SMR technology that it wants to implement. – Thus, we are forgetting the subjunctive mode, when talking about nuclear energy from small nuclear reactors in our country – said Chludziński.

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The estimated cost of building the power plant with infrastructure is expected to be between $ 1.5-2 billion. KGHM is working on the investment together with the American company NuScale, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange two months ago. The contract was signed in February this year, and the copper company announced that it would launch the first reactors by 2029. The energy from the first SMR power plant is to be supplied to the production divisions of KGHM. The proposed project is modular, which means trouble-free scale-up of the entire undertaking.

The construction of small nuclear reactors is directly related to the KGHM Climate Policy, the main goals of which are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. KGHM’s ambition is to effectively increase the share of renewable energy sources and its own production in covering energy demand. The company has its own low-emission generation sources fueled with gaseous fuel. It is also developing renewable energy projects, including photovoltaic power plants in areas owned by KGHM.

Interest in another company

Following KGHM, the application to the National Atomic Energy Agency was submitted by Orlen-related special purpose vehicle, Synthos Green Energy. On the same day, the company applied to the President of the National Atomic Energy Agency for a general opinion on the BWRX-300 technology. “The technical documentation is based on documentation prepared by a technology supplier for the Canadian CNRC regulator in a process called VDR (Vendor Design Review). VDR is a pre-license technology review standardized in the Canadian legal system” – explained. The press office of the Płock concern assessed that Orlen is in a “very convenient” position for the commercialization of modular reactors in Poland, because, inter alia, has wide access to potential locations or a rich history of implementing large investment projects. According to the company, establishing cooperation with Synthos Green Energy and the selection of BWRX-300 reactors will allow for faster and more efficient implementation of this technology in Orlen.

Orlen argues that small nuclear reactors are an opportunity for the national economy. He cites here the estimates of GE Hitachi, which claims that approx. 50 percent. expenses related to their construction may stay in Poland. This also applies to key elements of the entire power plant, such as the turbine and generator, parts of the reactor vessel, and hydraulic systems. “As a result, new jobs will be created in attractive sectors of the economy. Almost 300 Polish companies have already been identified that have the potential to become part of the supply chain in the construction of these reactors” – emphasized.

The company indicated that a small reactor with a capacity of approx. 300 MWe is capable of generating energy annually needed to supply approx. 150 thousand. cities. The estimated cost of producing 1 MWh of electricity will ultimately be approx. 30 percent. lower than gas energy. It was added that a single modular reactor with a capacity of approx. 300 MWe can prevent emissions of up to 0.3 to 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year, depending on the type of fuel being replaced (e.g. hard coal or lignite).

The concern from Płock also drew attention to the issue of the safety of using such reactors. It was explained that the BWRX-300 reactor has passive safeguards, allowing it to spontaneously initiate cooling procedures if necessary, without involving human staff for seven days. “These types of solutions allow for safer operation and allow a much more flexible approach to the location of the reactors. They may be located, for example, in the vicinity of certain industrial plants” – indicated.

It was also explained that a small reactor could be erected on less than 5 ha, which means that four SMRs would fit on the area of ​​the National Stadium in Warsaw.

The National Atomic Energy Agency is a nuclear regulatory authority that cares for nuclear safety and radiological protection in Poland.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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