Energy 2 May, 2023 7:35 am   
COMMENTS: Joanna Słowińska

Polish Briefing: Orlen on a fast track to a nuclear reactor I Poland’s coal imports under scrutiny I Energa opens 2 new PV farms I Poland to mine lithium in Chile

Daniel-Obajtek-1536×1152 Daniel Obajtek. Picture by Wojciech Jakóbik.

PKN Orlen has declared it would be able to build the first small-scale reactor (SMR) in 2028 or 2029.

Orlen wants to have the first nuclear reactor in 2028-2029

“This requires regulatory acts and a change in the approach of the European Union, and that is why we put a very strong emphasis on the energy sector operating in the base load, that is, on the issue of SMR,” assured the president of PKN Orlen Daniel Obajtek answering questions from journalists in Wielbark. “You will see that we will build the first SMR at the turn of 2028 and 2029. We are determined, we keep in touch with companies, GE Hitachi, engineers, with the United States and government banks, which are now supervised by the Congress, as well as with the Canadian side, which is already in the second phase of certification, which is the final stage of this process. We have to go in that direction,” he said.

“When we talk with businesses, they ask what the energy prices will be in 5-10 years. Those who invest billions operate in a perspective of about 30 years, look at the market long term. If international companies do not see opportunities for cheaper electricity, they will not locate their businesses in Poland, and our economy will weaken economically and technologically. This is the task of the Orlen group, which has the financial capabilities and can invest in this technology,” argued the president of Orlen. “The second issue that is often raised by European partners is the concern about regulatory issues in Europe. I must say that, unfortunately, the European Union is hampering business. Non-European funds do not want to invest for many reasons, such as the imposition of additional taxes, their unpredictability, different approaches to assessing excess profits. For example: if a company has 8 to 10 percent of the profit relative to revenue, this is normal profit. This is not an excess profit, because today the cost of capital is about 9 percent. If we treat companies in such a way that we immediately take what they earn, applying unpredictable EU regulations, then I can guarantee that neither capital from the States nor from other countries will want to invest in Europe. These are the big problems that the European Union has to face and this is the opinion of businesses across the world,” Obajtek argued.

PKN Orlen, in cooperation with Synthos, has established Orlen Synthos Green Energy to use GE’s Hitachi BWRX-300 technology to build a number of small SMRs in Poland. This will be made possible thanks to certification being enabled in the U.S. and the European Union. Orlen predicts that this process will proceed quickly enough, so that the first reactor in Poland from Orlen Synthos Green Energy will be built in 2028-29. Orlen and Synthos have already presented the first seven locations where they would like to build the atom, among them are Kraków and Warsaw.

Wojciech Jakóbik / Jacek Perzyński

Coal imports to Poland almost twice as much as demand

During the energy crisis, Poland imported almost twice as much coal from abroad as it consumed. The reason is the warm winter without which the demand would be greater.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State Assets Jacek Sasin said that PGE Paliwa i Węglokoks brought to Poland 12.4 million tons of coal in the period from July 2022 to April 2023. The demand was estimated by the Ministry of State Assets at the level of 6-8 million tons.

“Our actions started to bear fruit in the summer and early autumn of 2022. Coal could arrive to Polish households, because we imported almost 12.5 million tons of this raw material,” said Sasin during a press conference. The Ministry of State Assets specified that 12.4 million tons of coal were imported from July 2022 to April 2023. Coal imports were mainly handled by PGE Paliwa i Węglokoks. “These 12.5 million tons of coal were brought to Polish ports by 242 ships. This required great logistical preparation as these ports, which after all were also supposed to handle other goods, had to stand up to the task organizationally. These 242 coal ships turned into 3,300 trains and more than 50,000 trucks,” said the Prime Minister. Deputy Minister of State Assets Karol Rabenda specified that within the framework of coal distribution by local governments, more than 2 million tons of coal went to farms, while 3 million tons came directly from PGE.

Poles consume about 10 million tons of coal annually for heating purposes. It is worth recalling that the unusually warm winter reduced coal consumption. In contrast, additional government-coordinated imports were necessary because of the energy crisis fueled by Gazprom. The reduction in the supply of Russian gas has pushed up the price of this fuel, increased the attractiveness of coal, reducing its availability and also increasing its value.

Isbnews / Bartosz Siemieniuk

Energa launches two PV farms in Masuria and Greater Poland

Energa Wytwarzanie from Orlen Group invests in new photovoltaic capacities in Masuria and Greater Poland. It has launched two photovoltaic farms with a total capacity of 87 MW in both regions.

Energa has launched two PV farms – Wielbark in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship and Gryf in the Greater Poland Voivodeship. The capacity of the first one is 62 MW, which covers demand for 35 thousand households, while the second will provide 25 MW covering 8 thousand homes. “Today we are in Wielbark, we are opening a farm with a capacity of 62 MW and we will increase it in the coming years. The investment cost PLN 260 million and will provide power for 35 thousand households,” said the President of PKN Orlen Daniel Obajtek during a press conference.

By the end of this year, the farm in Wielbark will be expanded, and its capacity will increase to 70 MW. In turn, next year, in the vicinity of the Gryf farm, photovoltaic installations with a total capacity of approx. 68 MW will be added.

“By 2030, we will allocate more than PLN 50 billion for the implementation of RES projects, increasing the capacity in RES to 9 GW. The launch of two more photovoltaic farms – Wielbark and Gryf – effectively brings us closer to this goal. Last year, we produced four times as much clean energy in photovoltaic installations as the year before. Thanks to new investments, this scale will increase. Already, our installed capacity in photovoltaics reaches approx. 97 MW, and the implementation of further projects will significantly increase it,” Obajtek promised.

The Wielbark PV farm consists of approx. 150,000 panels with a unit capacity of up to 530 W. The installation is supported by more than 300 inverters, and approx. 2,500 tons of steel were used to build it. The investment cost about PLN 200 million. It spans 119 hectares, on a plot with low-class soil. The construction work was completed in the second half of 2022 and the first panels with a total capacity of approx. 12 MW were added to the grid then.

The Gryf PV farm will supply clean energy to approx. 10,000. households. The value of this investment was approx. PLN 60 million. It consists of approx. 50,000 panels and was established in a municipality in Greater Poland called Przykona, in areas reclaimed after an open pit lignite mine. In the same area the company also owns an onshore wind farm with a capacity of 31 MW and a small photovoltaic installation with a capacity of approx. 1 MW.

Energa’s portfolio has approx. 97 MW of capacity installed in PV, and by the end of this year, after further investments, it will increase to approx. 110 MW. The company produced 1.3 TWh of green energy from renewable sources last year, which is approx. 30% of total gross production.

Jędrzej Stachura

Polish mining defends itself against methane regulation and takes aim at lithium in Chile

The methane regulation has been drafted in a way that is favorable for the Polish mining industry. Members of the EU Parliament from Poland voted unanimously on this issue. At the same time, according to Deputy Prime Minister Jack Sasin, KGHM is after new deposits of lithium in Chile, which is now a critical raw material for the energy transition, also called white gold.

The methane regulation introduces an obligation to combat methane emissions in mines. According to a 2020 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Poland ranks second in the world in terms of methane emissions associated with coal mining, after China. “During the work on the methane regulation, we presented our partners in the EU with the view that regardless of the solutions adopted, they will not have such an effect that we will close Polish mines faster than it results from our capabilities and provisions in the social contract,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Assets Jacek Sasin told Polish Radio 24. “During the negotiations, we managed to increase the limit to 5 tons of methane per 1 thousand tonnes of coal mined and provide for this threshold to be applied per operator if one operator manages several mines. Penalties for violations were also replaced with fees that go to the member state budget, and then are transferred to mines to invest in technologies that reduce methane emissions,” he explained.

Sasin also mentioned other critical raw materials extracted by KGHM in Chile. “Lithium and copper are the key elements in the energy transition. Therefore, we are looking for new sources of copper and hence the important investment in Chile, which we have and want to develop. We are also trying to enter the lithium mining process there,” said Deputy Prime Minister Sasin. The search for new deposits of these two raw materials is crucial for Poland to become one of the leading countries in the field of electrification. Because they are crucial for the development of electromobility, such as the production of batteries for electric cars.

Polish Radio 24 / Bartosz Siemieniuk