In October 2019, one of Poland’s richest businessmen, Michał Sołowow, owner of Synthos SA, a chemical manufacturing company, released information about the signing of a memorandum with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy on the possibility of building a 300 MW nuclear power plant unit on GEH’s BWRX-300 SMRs technology in southern Poland near its chemical plant. According to international experts, such project might be implemented by 2027 provided that certification in the USA of small modular reactors technology, developed by Hitachi, is successful by 2024.
The large Polish business initiative to find low-carbon energy sources is primarily linked to the growing demands for decarbonisation in the EU and the lack of prospects for coal generation. The Polish company plans to involve in the implementation of the project both existing in the country specialized institutions and American specialists. According to Michał Sołowow, one of the most serious challenges is the attraction in the construction of such a nuclear power plant of investment that is estimated at no less than USD 1 billion.
At the same time, experts point out that the total capital costs and construction period of such a facility will be 60% lower than the average cost of constructing of nuclear power plants with traditional units.
According to an analysis by the energy expert Agata Loskot-Strachota, Synthos SA’s plans have attracted considerable attention within the country, as the issue of adopting a relevant strategy for the development of nuclear generation is once again postponed due to internal political disputes. The Energy Ministry representatives publicly supported this business initiative, saying it could help decarbonise the industry. At the same time, the Polish government does not abandon plans to implement a large-scale NPP project up to 9 GW by 2040.
Zygmunt Solorz, another major businessman in Poland, the owner of ZE PAK (a coal-fired thermal power plant operator), is also interested in low-carbon generation. He is concerned about the threat of loss of business profitability due to increased environmental requirements for coal generation, rising costs of greenhouse gas emissions permits and the gradual phasing out of government support. ZE PAK’s plans are to develop and implement a strategy for the transition to low-carbon generation, in particular the development of industrial solar power plant projects.