Canada and Romania have signed a CAD3bn ($2.2bn) export development deal to support construction of two new units at the Cernavoda NPP. Canadian Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the financing offer for Romania’s national nuclear operator, Nuclearelectrica, to buy supplies or services from Canadian companies.

Cernavoda is Romania's only NPP, and has two commercially operational Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Construction of the two-unit station began in the early 1980s. The 700 MWe Cernavoda 1 was commissioned in December 1996 and Cernavoda 2 in 2007. Construction of three more units began, but was stopped in 1990. Cernavoda 1&2 supply about one-fifth of Romania’s electricity.

The Cernavoda 3&4 project aims to complete two further Candu 6 reactors. A draft law on the agreement to build units 3&4 was adopted by the government in December 2022 and subsequently approved by parliament. The two new units are expected to be operating by 2032. The total estimated costs of the project exceed $7bn.

The funds will partly come from Export Development Canada and partly from the Canada Account, which supports export financing considered to be in Canada’s national interest. “This is first and foremost about energy security,” Romanian Energy Minister Sebastian Burduja told a press conference in Ottawa. “Indeed not just for Romania but the whole region.”

Burduja noted that Romania already has an agreement with neighbouring Moldova to share some of the power from the two new Candu reactors. Romania is also in talks with Ukraine, Hungary and Austria. Ambassadors from Ukraine, Poland, and Finland were among those who attended the signing ceremony.

Nuclearelectrica said the funding announcement “reconfirms the strategic partnership between Canada and Romania in the field of nuclear energy to achieve Romania’s climate and energy security objectives”.

By 2031/2032, Romania will add approximately 1400 MWe installed capacity by operating Units 3 and 4 at Cernavoda, in addition to extending the lifetime of unit 1 for 30 years and maintaining the 700 MWe capacity by refurbishing unit 1 by 2029, Nuclearelectrica noted. “These strategic projects will be carried out in collaboration with traditional Canadian partners and with the support of the Export Bank of Canada (EDC) and will contribute to Romania’s energy security and decarbonisation targets. In addition, the projects will provide stable jobs for approximately 20,000 employees in Romania’s nuclear industry for the next 60-70 years and contribute to socio-economic development.”

Nuclearelectrica Director General Cosmin Ghiță said: “We are proud and honoured to continue the strategic partnership we have had with Canada for over 55 years by operating the only Candu technology plant in Europe, and one of the best performing in the world in terms of high-capacity factor. Our civil nuclear projects are benchmarks for the nuclear power industry globally and a significant step towards a clean and sustainable energy future with nuclear reactors. This sustainable partnership can set an example for other countries that intend to develop an energy strategy using clean, resilient and affordable energy – nuclear power.”

Nuclearelectrica noted that the new Canadian funding “complements the interest expressed by the United States, through the US Exim Bank, in financing the technical services provided by the US for Nuclearelectrica units 3 and 4”. This includes funding up to $50m from the US export contract for pre-project technical services as part of the Engineering Multiplier Programme (EMP) and up to $3bn from the US export contract for engineering and project management services for the contract to complete Cernavoda 3&4.

Image: Cernavoda nuclear power plant (courtesy of Nuclearelectrica)