Agreement signed in Washington to develop the BWRX-300 technology

For the first time ever, a Polish company has become party to an agreement for a design for nuclear power plant, while being given an opportunity to actively participate in the design process.

The agreement signed by Synthos Green Energy will allow it to obtain a design consistent with both European and Polish standards and thus to expedite the construction work on Poland’s first SMR. In addition, the design will be applicable to further SMR deployments, significantly streamlining the entire process and reducing the cost of building the BWRX-300 fleet.

“For the first time ever, a private Polish company is investing in a design for nuclear power plants. We do this because GE Hitachi’s state-of-the-art modular technology is simply ideal for decarbonising energy and heat production in Poland, and also for our other zero-emission projects in the United Kingdom and throughout Central Europe,” says Rafał Kasprów, CEO of Synthos Green Energy.

The Polish company’s partners are Ontario Power Generation (OPG) – a Canadian power supplier running a project to develop the world’s first BWRX-300 near Toronto, and the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) – one of the largest electric utility corporations in the US. TVA will develop the first BWRX-300 in the US at Clinch River, for which its has already secured a site permit from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. GE Hitachi, the owner of BWRX-300, is another party to the agreement, which will allow it to step up work on the technology.

Through the agreement signed in Washington with the participation of the Polish Ambassador to the US Marek Magierowski, the partners are to invest in the development of a design led by GE Hitachi, the total investment amount to exceed USD 400 million. The work will include the BWRX-300 standard design and detailed design for the reactor building and other components with a reactor pressure vessel and internals. Work to finalise the agreement had been under way from spring 2020.

The fact that the project’s overall cost will be funded by several contributors, which will develop power plants using reactors from GE Hitachi, will strengthen the cost competitiveness of the technology deployment. The involvement of electricity companies controlled by the US federal government (TVA) and by the government of the Canadian province of Ontario (OPG) is proof that BWRX-300 is the most mature technology for constructing SMRs.

The collaboration and additional funding will ensure that the standard design is deployable in different parts of the world and in multiple jurisdictions. To this end, a dedicated team will be formed by the agreement signatories(the design centre working group) to ensure compliance of the technology design with the regulations and standards applicable in various jurisdictions. The goal is for the BWRX-300 technology to be licensed and deployed in the US, Canada, Poland as well as other countries.

Preparations to construct the first BWRX-300 SMR are being carried out by OPG at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station near Toronto. The new facility is slated to be placed in operation by the end of 2028. Last year, OPG applied for a construction permit to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and a contract for the project was signed in January 2023 with OPG, GEH, SNC Lavalin and Aecon as the contractors. As for TVA, it is preparing to apply for a permit to construct a BWRX-300 at Clinch River in Tennessee, while exploring additional sites in its service area (southeastern states of the US) for more potential SMR deployments.

The BWRX-300 is being designed to reduce construction and operating costs below other nuclear power generation technologies, while ensuring the highest standards of safety and operational reliability. The design is being developed to leverage proven technologies and components already used in the US-licensed ESBWR reactor as well as existing certified fuel that has been produced for years. A decision to build a BWRX-300 has recently been made by Estonia. Interest in the GE Hitachi technology, to a varying extent, has already been expressed by some 30 countries.

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