Environment /

Two U.S. Institutions to Lend Poland $4 Billion for Nuclear Energy

A Polish energy company plans to construct 20 small BWRX-300 Modular reactors to end national use of coal

Two United States financial institutions have agreed to lend a combined $4 billion to a Polish energy company for the development of nuclear reactors.

The company, ORLEN, will develop 20 small BWRX-300 Modular reactors as part of its project with chemical company Synthos Green Energy. The reactors would assist the nation as it shifts to nuclear power and gradually ends the use of coal.

The U.S. EXIM Bank signed a letter of interest at a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw indicating it will lend ORLEN $3 billion. In a second letter of interest, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation agreed to lend $1 billion to the project. 

Daniel Obajtek, the president of PKN ORLEN, told the media the first BERX-300 reactors will be operational by 2029, per The Boston Herald. He previously said the company plans to establish reactors in several different locations, including Ostoleka, Dabrowa Gornicza, Warsaw and Krakow.

Construction is expected to begin in 2026.

“Poland is looking for energy solutions, and the United States will always support its allies,” tweeted the U.S. ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, on April 17. “I am convinced that safe, clean and reliable nuclear power from GE-Hitachi’s Small Modular Reactors … is an important part of this solution.”

The reactors are designed by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, which is based in in the United States. Similar reactors are already operational in Darlington, Canada. 

In October of 2020, Poland agreed to buy $18 billion in nuclear technology from American companies. Poland has typically imported most of its gas from Russia. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, many European countries increased their efforts to sever ties with Russia – including attempting to end their energy dependence on the country.

Germany’s Green Party raised concerns about the nuclear power plants, which would sit just across its border. In a report, the Green Party said the project would be a threat to the German population.

“Experts evaluated everything on the basis of weather data over the past three years. There is a 20% probability that Germany would be affected by an accident at the planned nuclear power plant,” said the chairwoman of the Bundestag Committee on the Environment, Ursula Kotting-Uhl, to DW. “In the worst-case scenario, 1.8 million Germans would be exposed to radiation of over 20 millisieverts. At that level, we would have to start evacuating. Berlin and Hamburg could be affected, which are densely populated.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said his country needs a “cheap, clean and reliable energy source” and that the small nuclear reactors are the key to switching away from coal. 

The shift to emission-free energy could impact the livelihood of thousands of people.

“Coal mining is among Poland’s largest employers, providing some 80,000 jobs and supplying some 70% of the country’s energy,” notes WRAL.

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