Poland KGHM turns to nuclear power as an alternative energy source


Updates from KGHM Polska Miedz SA

Finding cheaper sources of energy is a “matter of national interest” for Polish companies, warned the managing director of KGHM, as the copper producer plans to build four small modular reactors.

Marcin Chludzinski said the nuclear reactors, which will be built by the US group NuScale with the first in line in 2029, would make KGHM, which is Poland’s second largest electricity consumer, self-sufficient in power generation and l ‘would isolate volatile energies. prices.

“To be globally competitive energy-intensive companies like ours. . . must have access to the cheapest electricity possible, and that is our goal, ”he said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“It’s not just a challenge for us. . . this is a challenge for all companies in Poland, because if energy continues to become more expensive at this rate, then our capacity to invest will decrease.

Poland remains one of the EU’s most coal-dependent economies and last year generated almost 70% of its energy from fossil fuels.

But as the EU has raised its climate targets and the cost of CO2 emissions has skyrocketed, businesses increasingly seek access to a cheaper and stable supply of electricity, and a number have expressed their interest in small modular reactors (SMR).

Last month, two of Poland’s richest men, Michal Solowow, who controls chemical group Synthos, and Zygmunt Solorz, who has a majority stake in media group Polsat and energy group ZE PAK, announced plans to building their own SMRs by the end of this decade.

Synthos has also signed technology cooperation agreements with PKN Orlen, the Polish state-owned oil refiner, and with Ciech, the chemical group controlled by billionaire Sebastian Kulczyk.

Chludzinski said Poland was being penalized “too heavily” for still relying heavily on coal for its energy. But he said technologies like SMRs could help accelerate the country’s energy transition.

“The poles are very flexible. If it turns out that these are the conditions under which we have to compete and that they cannot be changed, then we are able to adapt fairly quickly. And I think the energy transformation, which is supposed to happen over time, could happen faster, ”he said.

The agreement between KGHM and NuScale, signed in Warsaw last week, foresees that four SMRs, with a capacity of 77 MW each, will be built by the end of 2030. But it is also possible to increase the number of ‘units to 12, which would generate about 1 GW of electricity.

Chludzinski said the project – the cost of which has not been finalized – could have the side effect of making KGHM a net producer of energy. But he said that was not the point of the exercise.

“We are not going to go from being a copper producer to being an energy company. Our primary focus is copper, ”he said. “But we have to be self-sufficient in terms of energy, and if we have more energy than we need, then we will sell it.”

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