A steelworks of the Polish group KGHM in Legnica
Photo: JP Black / LightRocket via Getty Images
The Polish mining group KGHM has signed a letter of intent with the US company NuScale Power to develop at least four small nuclear reactors to operate its industrial plants.
"The climate changes are forcing us to act decisively," said Marcin Chludzinski, CEO of the mining company.
The first reactor should go online in 2029.
The blocks are to have an output of 77 megawatts each.
In contrast to large nuclear reactors, they have the advantage that they can be assembled from prefabricated parts in a factory and then transported to the place of use.
NuScale CEO John Hopkins said the small reactors are ideal for operation in decommissioned coal-fired power plants.
New generation of nuclear power plants?
KGHM is one of the largest copper and silver producers in the world and the second largest electricity consumer in Poland.
Poland is the country with the highest coal consumption in the European Union, it is about 70 percent dependent on coal for power generation.
Because coal electricity is becoming more and more expensive due to the European trade in CO2 certificates, Poland has one of the highest energy costs in the EU.
However, the country plans to close all coal mines by 2049 in order to achieve the EU's climate neutrality targets.
In order to continue to meet the energy demand, the government is planning to build large nuclear power plants with an output of up to nine gigawatts.
In the USA, several companies are working on the development of small, modular nuclear power plants (
Small Modular Reactor - SMR
), in addition to NuScale also the start-up Terrapower, which is co-financed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Small reactors are also known in other countries: for example, Russia has developed mini-nuclear power plants that can supply hard-to-access places with electricity on floating platforms, for example in the polar sea.
beb / AFP