PKN ORLEN steps up work on nuclear technology

PKN ORLEN and Synthos Green Energy will set up a joint venture to invest in the development of micro and small modular reactor technologies. The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection has given its clearance for the establishment of ORLEN Synthos Green Energy, which will be responsible for developing and commercialising in Poland one of the most efficient, cost effective and safest energy generation technologies. This is an important contribution to ORLEN’s energy diversification efforts that will help enhance energy security for Poland and the region.

- At the ORLEN Group, we are investing in a strong energy sector based on state-of-the-art solutions and clean generation sources, with nuclear technology playing an important role. The Competition and Consumer Protection Office’s clearance paves the way for acceleration of our MMR and SMR projects. Today, the importance of supplementing the energy mix with stable energy sources is particularly visible. We have no doubt that we are heading in the right direction – our project plays a critical part in ensuring Poland’s energy security and growth of the national economy - said Daniel Obajtek, President of the Management Board of PKN ORLEN.

PKN ORLEN will recommend Dawid Jackiewicz, advisor to the Management Board of ORLEN Unipetrol (an ORLEN Group company), to the Management Board of ORLEN Synthos Green Energy.

PKN ORLEN has chosen GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300 reactors, which are currently the world’s most advanced technology on its way to commercialisation. In addition, with access to a vast array of potential deployment sites, a long track record of implementing major capital projects and extensive experience in the deployment of cutting-edge energy generation technologies, the ORLEN Group is ideally positioned for the preparation and launch of micro and small modular reactors.

Building a BWRX-300 reactor takes only about one-third of the time needed to construct a traditional large-scale nuclear power plant. Also, construction costs per MW are roughly 30% lower compared with conventional nuclear projects. A small nuclear reactor with a capacity of ca. 300 MWe is capable of generating sufficient energy to power a city with a population of about 150,000, the size of Zielona Góra. The estimated generation costs per MWh of electricity will ultimately be about 30% lower compared with gas-fired generating sources. What is equally important, a single modular reactor of about 300 MWe can reduce emissions by some 0.3 to 2.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, depending on the type of fuel being replaced (for example, hard coal or lignite).

The investment agreement to set up a new company was signed by PKN ORLEN and Synthos Green Energy in December 2021. The company’s activities are to include preparations for the construction of micro and small modular reactors, in particular GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300 reactors, as well as supporting the development of a relevant legal framework, exploring potential reactor sites, implementing joint projects and, ultimately, generating energy and heat using the technology for own, municipal and commercial needs.