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GE Hitachi, Poland Manufacturer Look Into Small Reactor Build

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Oct 24, 2019
The rendering shows the BWRX-300 model. (Rendering courtesy of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy)
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has landed another agreement to look into the potential to build its BWRX-300 small module reactor technology, this time with a company in Poland.

The Wilmington-based provider of advanced nuclear reactors and services announced this week that it has entered into an agreement with Poland-based Synthos S.A., in which the companies have agreed to investigate the potential to construct GE Hitachi's BWRX-300 design, according to a news release.

Most of the engineering for the BWRX-300 model is taking place at the headquarters site in Wilmington, said Jon Allen, spokesman for GE Hitachi.

“This work will continue here as we commercialize this technology,” he said.

Synthos is a part of the largest private industrial group in Poland, stated the release. The company is a manufacturer of synthetic rubber and one of the biggest producers of chemical raw materials in Poland.

The country of Poland plans to have nuclear power around 2033 as part of its move away from its heavy dependence on coal and imported gas, according to the World Nuclear Association.

The manufacturer is investigating the use of the BWRX-300 technology to power its operations in Poland, Allen confirmed.

"The BWRX-300 technology can be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s," Allen said of the potential timing of the agreement. "GE Hitachi and Synthos will engage with the Polish regulator at the right time to assess the timing on licensing."

International news reports on Synthos indicate that the company is planning to use the technology as part of the company’s effort to steer away from the use of coal-generated power.

“Small modular reactors can play a significant role in addressing Poland’s energy challenges, the modernization of the nation’s energy sector and in achieving necessary and responsible deep decarbonization,” said Michał Sołowow, owner of Synthos, said in the release. “Utilizing small modular reactors to generate clean energy will improve our chances to move away from coal and have a positive impact on our industry and nation.”

The BWRX-300 small modular reactor model is the 10th evolution of GE’s first boiling water reactor design and is the simplest and most innovative boiling water reactor design since GE began commercializing nuclear reactors in 1955, stated the release.

The model was the subject of a similar agreement with Estonia-based Fermi Energia OÜ earlier this month. The companies announced an agreement that could potentially lead to the construction of the BWRX-300 in Estonia. Fermi Energia plans to publicize an economic feasibility study on the suitability of small modular reactors (SMRs) for Estonia in January.

“Through dramatic design simplification, GEH projects the BWRX-300 will require up to 60 percent less capital cost per MW (megawatt) when compared to other water-cooled SMR designs or existing large nuclear reactor designs,” stated the release.

The BWRX-3000 is a 300 MWe (megawatt electric) water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems, according to the release. It leverages the economic simplified boiling water reactor (ESBWR) design, which has been certified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“The BWRX-300 is a breakthrough innovation for the industry where cost has become a significant barrier,” Jon Ball, executive vice president of Nuclear Plant Projects for GE Hitachi, said in the release. “Through our design-to-cost approach, we are designing the BWRX-300 to be cost competitive with gas, renewables and other forms of power generation. We applaud Synthos for its interest in small modular reactor technology and advocacy of clean-energy options for Poland.”
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