ORLEN Group focuses on affordable, safe and clean energy

ORLEN Synthos Green Energy is investing in zero-carbon nuclear power and will provide Poles with access to safe, affordable and clean energy as well as create attractive new jobs. The company has already checked tens of potential sites for the construction of small modular blocks. So far, seven most optimum sites have been selected for further geological surveys. Once their potential is confirmed, the priority will be to open a dialogue with the communities in each of the locations. Only after reaching an agreement will decisions be made about implementing a safe and environmentally friendly project. 

“To be modern and competitive, Poland’s economy needs affordable and clean energy. That is why we are taking concrete measures to reach this objective. Small modular reactors are not merely a vision of the future. By 2030, we plan to build at least one modern and completely safe nuclear block in Poland. We have picked several dozens potential sites for this strategic project. We see a lot of interest from local governments, which are aware of the associated benefits. In the first stage, we selected seven most promising sites. However, since approval from the local communities is of fundamental importance to us, an open dialogue with residents will be key in making the decision on final locations. And the game is worth the candle, because each SMR plant means about 100 new jobs at the plant itself and about 1,000 in the region, as well as safe and cheap energy and additional proceeds to the local budgets,” said Daniel Obajtek, PKN ORLEN’s CEO and President of the Management Board.

Once the ongoing surveys and preliminary consultations with local governments are completed, over the next two years ORLEN Synthos Green Energy will thoroughly analyse the possibility of building the first small modular block near seven locations: Ostrołęka, Włocławek, Stawy Monowskie, Dąbrowa Górnicza, Nowa Huta, Tarnobrzeg Special Economic Zone and Warsaw. These are locations with, among others, high energy-intensive production plants, as well as locations that are optimal for heating system purposes.

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) meet the highest safety standards. They have mechanisms that automatically trigger cooling procedures, so that after an emergency shutdown the BWRX-300 unit can remain in a safe state for many days without human intervention. Such solutions enable fully safe operation and make it easier to find sites for the nuclear blocks. What additionally helps is the small size of this kind of plant, taking up about 10% of the land needed for a large nuclear power plant. The SMR plant, consisting of the reactor building, turbine and generator building, control building, radioactive waste building and the turbine and generator repair facilities, will take up only an area the size of a football pitch.

Small modular blocks are a source of cheap energy. The estimated costs per MWh of SMR-generated electricity will ultimately be many times lower compared with gas-fired generating sources. Electricity output from one SMR will be sufficient to satisfy the needs of approximately 300,000-350,000 households. The use of the modern American BWRX-300 technology is also a guarantee of high performance. The unit will be able to generate power on a continuous basis for 60 years, with the option to extend production to 90 years.

“The United States stands with our allies.  Right now, Poland is seeking more energy solutions.  It needs a secure source of energy to protect itself against Russia’s malign influence.  It needs a clean source of energy to meet climate commitments. And it needs a reliable source of energy to drive the economy and create good paying jobs. I am confident that secure, clean, and reliable nuclear energy from GE-Hitachi’s Small Modular Reactors is an important part of this solution,” said Mark Brzezinski, United States Ambassador to Poland.

Investments in small modular blocks facilitate a fast-paced and effective transition. The cutting-edge units will guarantee fully safe production of clean energy. Because of their neutral environmental impact, many SMRs in the world are built in the vicinity of cities or city centres. One example is the unit in Darlington, Canada, just 5 km from Oshawa, which has a population of 140,000. By 2030, ORLEN Synthos Green Energy will build at least one BWRX-300, which will be the second SMR of this type in the world, after the one being built in Darlington. The company holds the exclusive right to this technology in Poland.

“I believe that converting coal to carbon-free nuclear energy, as well as supporting district heating and industrial heat applications will require a fleet of BWRX-300s in Poland that capitalizes on this significant investment thanks to the modernized design, they are the safest SMR technology currently available in the world,” said Jay Wileman, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's President and CEO.

Dozens of Polish companies will be part of the supply chain for ORLEN Synthos Green Energy’s investment. This means that almost a half of the expenditure on building the first SMR will be spent under contracts with Polish companies. The project will also help create hundreds of new jobs in many industries. There is more than just jobs for high- and medium-qualified staff at the power plant – local residents can also work as construction workers or drivers. It is estimated that one SMR will provide about 100 jobs for local communities at the plant itself, while each of these jobs will generate five to six more in the surrounding area, in addition to jobs in construction. The availability of affordable energy and the security of its supply will attract investor interest. Local governments will gain additional tax revenues, making it possible to subsidise healthcare facilities, preschools and schools, community centres and others areas important to local residents.

More than a dozen countries from all over the world are investing in small modular block technology projects, including the United States, the UK, France, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland and Romania.