What's new

In order to ensure the development of SMR technology in Poland and Europe, we need fleet-oriented investments of regional coverage

Warsaw, 13 June 2023 


In order to ensure the development of SMR technology in Poland and Europe, we need fleet-oriented investments of regional coverage


That’s the conclusion of a discussion among industry experts, technology providers, investors and researchers who attended the “SMR – Modular Nuclear Energy for Business” conference on Monday, June 12, held in Warsaw by the Energy and Climate Forum of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. PKN ORLEN was the Main Partner of the event, EDF was a Partner, and Honorary Patrons included three ministries – the Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Ministry of Development and Technology and the Ministry of State Assets, as well as the National Atomic Energy Agency, the National Center for Nuclear Research and the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.

The event brought together both nuclear lawmakers, the regulator, several US and European SMR manufacturers, recipients declaring interest in small reactors of various capacities and nuclear experts, who sought to take prepare an inventory of the state of the art of modular nuclear reactors to date and outline the outlook for the development of such investments in our country and region.

In the opinion of Adam Guibourgé-Czetwertyński, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Polish nuclear special-purpose act and nuclear law are sufficient for SMR investments to be developed on their basis, with technology neutrality and a desire to streamline the processes involved in obtaining the necessary permits at the core of the national legislation. Nonetheless, seeing the growing interest in small nuclear reactors, work is currently underway at the ministry to detail regulations for smaller modular nuclear reactors. The minister also encouraged a concerted international effort to bring nuclear technologies from a background player to the front lines of energy transition efforts – as complementary solutions to RES and hydrogen investments.

According to Kamila Król, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Development and Technology, small nuclear reactors have the potential to become a lever of the Polish economy in the coming decades. SMRs can be a remedy for the rising cost of CO2 allowances and ensure Poland has the right composition of the low-carbon energy mix on the one hand, and guarantee a stable and secure energy supply on the other.

As noted by Jarosław Dybowski, Executive Director of Energy PKN ORLEN and Vice Chairman of the Board of ORLEN Synthos Green Energy: “We cannot think of nuclear reactors today as classically understood power plants, which in the past were only meant to provide electricity. The use of SMRs in domestic conditions is naturally the replacement of depleted coal-fired units, but the modular reactors will also work in the combined heat and power economy and find application in numerous industrial processes.” District heating and energy-intensive industries are identified as the main beneficiaries of SMR technologies, and the number of entities declaring interest in these solutions is growing.

The main challenge appears to be not so much the technology of light-water nuclear reactors themselves, of which there are about 150 in operation worldwide and only their power and size need to be scaled up; it is the cost that may be a barrier. Experts agree that two aspects can help investors in this regard. On the one hand, suitable government guarantees and a refined financial model, so that involvement in SMRs for banks entails acceptable risks. On the other, the economies of scale brought about by a fleet-oriented investment campaign of regional range, which will reduce unit costs and build locally the competence, service facilities and structures necessary for the new sector.

“After listening to the participants of the discussion, several recommendations come to mind, such as the involvement of Polish regulators in work on harmonizing nuclear regulations and standardizing certification of SMRs in Europe, the need to consider establishing a TSO (Technical Support Organization) within the structures of the National Center for Nuclear Research and, finally, opening a debate on the future of the nuclear energy in the EU taxonomy, which assumes support for nuclear investments only until 2045, at the European forum.” – concluded Jakub Bińkowski, Board Member of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers.

The conference also touched upon many other aspects of SMR projects, such as safety considerations and the important role of the PPA, which will evaluate small nuclear on the same basis as full-scale nuclear investments. According to experts – despite the already clear support for nuclear in Poland – an extremely important aspect determining the success of SMR investments will be properly conducted communication due to the particular public perception of risk from nuclear facilities. As experts point out, there is no shortage of ideas for small nuclear reactors in the world today, as there are already about 80 projects at the “early design” stage, including also high-temperature reactors using other types of fuel and cooled by gas, HTRs (including a Polish one!) or nuclear batteries that can operate for 20 years without human intervention and the need for fuel supply. Another thread raised by the participants in the discussion was the possibility of involving Polish companies in the development of the European SMR sector, in which experts see significant potential given the pace of development of SMR projects in our country.

The event was attended by over 150 participants. The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers will soon make a full recording of the conference available on its YouTube channel.

Link to the event page:


For members of the ZPP

Our websites

Subscribe to our newsletter