Polish PM in Clarington to sign nuclear partnership with OPG


Published June 5, 2023 at 8:25 am

Polish PM Mateusz at Darlington nuclear station. Photo Polskieradio.pl

The importance of a technology collaboration agreement between Ontario Power Generation, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Poland’s Synthos Green Energy was lit up in nuclear neon Friday when Poland’s head of government paid a visit to the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station to sign a letter of intent to build small modular reactors (SMR) in Europe.

OPG, Synthos and Tennessee Valley, which operates seven nuclear stations in the state, signed a collaborative agreement in March.

The three companies will invest in the development of the GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 standard design – now under construction at Darlington and expected to be powered to the grid by 2028 – as well as detailed design for key components, including reactor pressure vessel and internals. GE-Hitachi is committed to standard design development and anticipates a total investment of around $400 million associated with the development, with each contributor agreeing to fund a portion of the overall cost.

Tennessee Valley wants to use the BWRX-300 design at its Clinch River site with the help of OPG. Synthos, and its joint venture ORLEN-Synthos, wants to deploy as many as 20 SMRs in Poland.

“OPG has the knowledge and experience managing large energy projects to assist Poland as it begins producing electricity using nuclear power,” said OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick. “Along with Ontario’s strong nuclear supply chain, we are well-positioned to help others increase their energy security and meet climate change goals.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was in Clarington as part of a state visit to Canada and to sign the letter of intent with OPG. He also met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Toronto.

The letter of intent serves as a next step in the companies’ existing relationship and builds on previously executed agreements between OPG and Synthos. This deal is aimed at future agreements under which OPG and its subsidiary could provide SMR operator services to the Polish company as it deploys SMRs in Poland and elsewhere in Europe. The partnership would include a number of SMR-related activities including:

  • Development and deployment
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Operator training
  • Commissioning, and
  • Regulatory support.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieki with OPG VP of New Nuclear Growth Gary Rose

Last October Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith conducted a trade mission to Poland to support the country’s energy independence. While in Poland Smith joined Polish Undersecretary of State Adam Guibourgé-Czetwertyński to witness the signing of a Master Services Agreement between Laurentis Energy Partners and Synthos to leverage Ontario expertise to support the development and deployment of SMRs in Poland.

“OPG is our key strategic partner. We recognize the company’s experience in the nuclear industry as well as its determination and progress in deploying the first BWRX-300. We benefit from the experience of the Darlington New Nuclear Project, and we are pleased that we can use the organization’s knowledge and support to deploy BWRX-300 reactors in Poland more efficiently,” said Rafał Kasprów, CEO of ORLEN-Synthos. “Working together to develop an operating organization for the SMR fleet in Poland is the next step, with the possibility to expand into the UK as well as other parts of the European Union.”

ORLEN-Synthos plans to deploy a fleet of the BWRX-300s in Poland, with the first unit ready before the end of this decade. The company named seven shortlisted locations for further geological surveys to site SMRs and has applied to the Polish government for a ‘Decision in Principle’ on six of the sites.

Two US government lending institutions have also pledged up to $4 billion to ORLEN-Synthos to build the SMRs in Poland.

Artist rendering of the Small Nuclear Reactor now under construction at the Darlington Nuclear Station

“The world is watching Ontario as we deploy the world’s first grid-scale small modular reactor to support our growing economy,” said Smith. “Ontario is ready to support our allies, leveraging the expertise of our world-class nuclear operators and exporting products and services from our highly skilled nuclear supply chain, to support their deployment of SMRs as a clean and reliable source of electricity.”

OPG also signed a memorandum of understanding with Czech Republic-based ČEZ to advance deployment of SMRs there.

Polish nuclear regulators, Panstwowa Agencja Atomistyki, and its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, signed a cooperation agreement in January.

Ken Hartwick is an enthusiastic backer of the partnership between the three countries.

“The collaboration agreement will help advance necessary work to develop this next generation of nuclear power efficiently, benefiting electricity-users in all our jurisdictions,” Hartwick said. “Nuclear power will play a key role in meeting increasing clean electricity needs in Ontario and beyond.”

GE-Hitachi President Jay Wileman noted that Synthos Green Energy’s participation marks the first time a private Polish company is investing in nuclear design. “This unprecedented collaboration will offer benefits to each of the team members and demonstrates confidence in the role that our SMR technology will play in helping nations meet decarbonization and energy security goals.”

The partners will also form a Design Center Working Group with the purpose of ensuring the standard design is deployable in multiple jurisdictions.

The partnership is expected to fast-track the SMR’s design and increase the odds of regulatory acceptance in the USA, noted Jeff Lyash the president at Tennessee Valley, which is the largest public power company in the country, serving 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states. “Working together, we are taking intentional steps to advance new nuclear in the U.S. and around the world,” he said, adding that the BWRX-300 design will add more “reliable, resilient, affordable, and clean energy” on the grid and will help support “the energy security of the nation.”

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