Romanian nuclear utility SN Nuclearelectrica (SNN) has selected Candu Energy (part of Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Group) to carry out additional pre-project work for the Candu reactor at unit 1 of the Cernavoda NPP. This is in preparation for extending its operating life. As part of a $65m two-year agreement, SNC-Lavalin will perform long-term engineering and front-end engineering services to prepare the future refurbishment project at Cernavoda 1, which will extend its service life by another 30 years to 2060.

Cernavoda, Romania's only NPP, 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. The Cernavoda 3&4 project aims to complete two further Candu 6 reactors. Cernavoda 1&2 supply 20% of Romania’s electricity.

“The refurbishment of unit 1 is part of the commitment of Nuclearelectrica to contribute to the re-energisation of Romania through clean energy, with low costs and 24/7 availability, said SNN CEO Cosmin Ghiță. “We are proud to capitalise on 26 years of nuclear expertise to the highest safety standards and productivity, to work with top international specialists and to complete this strategic project for Romania's energy security.”

Specialist personnel from the Canadian nuclear division of SNC-Lavalin will undertake the design and procurement engineering work needed to implement the design changes and recommendations resulting SNC-Lavalin’s condition, assessment recently performed together with Ansaldo Nuclear. These were selected by SNN as part of the unit 1 mid-life refurbishment. In addition, new infrastructure and buildings needed on site to support reactor retubation activities will be designed. SNC-Lavalin will work with Ansaldo Nuclear, which will provide engineering services for the classic part of the plant, continuing the long-term partnership between the companies. Other partner organisations include Sargent & Lundy, CITON and General Electric Steam Power, which will provide engineering services.

SNC-Lavalin is the only organisation that has taken part in all Candu life extension projects globally. These include Point Lepreau NPP (New Brunswick), Darlington and Bruce Power NPPs (Ontario), Wolsong NPP (South Korea), and Embalse NPP (Argentina). The company’s nuclear expertise and prior experience (reactor design, design modifications, prolonged operation and life extensions) will be leveraged to support the work.

From 2029, refurbishment of unit 1 will deliver approximately 5.5GWh of energy, and will avoid more than 5m tonnes of CO2 a year for another 30 years.

Unit 1 of the (CNE) Cernavoda nuclear power plant, with an installed capacity of 700 MW, was put into operation in 1996 and has so far delivered 133GWh, representing 9% of national consumption over 26 years. Unit 1 also avoided the release of 130m tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere.

The unit 1 refurbishment project began in 2017, and is being implemented in three stages. Phase from 2017 to 2022, comprised: demonstrating the ability of the existing unit 1 reactor components to operate for more than 210,000 hours at rated power, at least until the end of 2026; outlining the purpose of the works within the project; and demonstrating its feasibility. A shareholder meeting in 2022 approved the feasibility study and investment decision. The estimated cost of the investment was put at €1.85bn.

Phase II, from 2022 to 2026, will cover the following activities: ensuring the financial resources for the realisation of the project; negotiating and awarding engineering, procurement & construction contracts; acquiring long-cycle manufacturing equipment; evaluating and programming the activities to be carried out; obtaining approval from the European Commission; and obtaining all the necessary authorisations and approvals. Phase III, from 2027 to 2029, will see implementation of the project.

SNC-Lavalin President, Nuclear, Joe St Julian, noted: “As the steward and original equipment manufacturer of Candu technology, we are thrilled to be able to conduct this vital work for SNN and the Romanian people, just as we were entrusted to originally construct Cernavoda’s reactors in 1996 and 2007.”

Image: Cernavoda nuclear power plant (courtesy of Nuclearelectrica)