Energy Weekly Publications #10 SMRs – small modular reactors

6 March 2023

SMRs – small modular reactors

Nuclear power investments in Poland have already become a permanent element of the energy sector’s public debate. In addition to the planned 2-3 investments in large-scale nuclear power plants, there are press reports about new potential locations for so-called SMRs, i.e. small modular nuclear reactors.

The need for rapid development of nuclear power in our country is currently indicated as one of the key elements of the energy transition, in order to reduce the combustion of hard coal and lignite in generating units. Nuclear reactors would serve as a stabilising component of the domestic electricity system at a time of dynamic development of renewable energy. However, the complex construction and investment process for large-scale nuclear power may take up to a dozen years. The aforementioned SMRs could therefore provide a helping hand in the near future.

Small Modular Reactors, i.e. small modular nuclear reactors with a capacity of up to 300 MW, can be delivered to the project site as finished components for final assembly. This will undoubtedly shorten the construction process itself, but above all it will significantly reduce investment costs. SMRs can operate as single generating units or be a part of a larger investment (also developed in phases).

However, these are not all the advantages of this solution. Small modular reactors also address other potential problems associated with the location of such investments in Poland. Due to their size, capacity and lower demand for water for cooling, SMRs can be built, inter alia, in the direct neighborhood of already operating industrial facilities and make use of the existing network infrastructure.

This is particularly important in view of current grid access problems and the cost-intensive and time-consuming construction process for new public purpose line investments. SMRs can also allow the development and use of direct lines in some cases to supply electricity to large energy-intensive customers.

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Marek Grzywacz, Ph.D., Counsel

Paulina Harhaj, Junior Associate