The European Commission (EC) has issued a positive opinion on the technical and nuclear safety aspects of the planned construction of units 3&4 at Romania’s Cernavoda NPP. Unit 3 is scheduled to start commercial operation in 2030 and unit 4 in 2031. Under the Euratom Treaty, nuclear project developers must notify the EC of any planned investments and demonstrate compliance with the highest nuclear safety standards.

The project is managed by the project company Energonuclear, a wholly owned subsidiary of Romanian nuclear utility Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN). Energonuclear notified the Commission project in May 2023.

SNN said the positive opinion is the result of detailed analyses of the information provided by Romania, visits to the Cernavoda NPP site and technical discussions held over a period of 13 months. SNN said the positive opinion “is accompanied by the usual recommendations for such projects, which aim at the proper application of the Euratom framework in the implementation and life of the project”.

SNN CEO Cosmin Ghita, CEO said the EC opinion “is a confirmation of our commitment to technical excellence and nuclear safety”. He added: “We are delighted with this significant progress and we are confident that units 3&4 at Cernavoda NPP will make a decisive contribution to Romania’s energy security and sustainability. The Nuclearelectrica team is ready to implement the Commission’s recommendations and to advance successfully in the next stages of the project.”

He also thanked the Ministry of Energy “for its diligent efforts to accelerate the Romanian nuclear programme, which includes the refurbishment of unit 1, the project for units 3&4 at Cernavoda and the construction of small modular reactors”.

The EC’s positive opinion was also welcomed by Romanian Minister of Energy Sebastian Burduja. “Today the European Commission confirms our progress and the construction of the two new reactors moves to the next stage,” he said. “Reactors 3 and 4 represent key pillars of the national energy strategy, the two units will make an essential contribution in ensuring energy security at national and regional level.”

In March 2023, Romania’s government adopted a law approving a support agreement with Nuclearelectrica for the proposed units. Commitments under the law include the government taking “the necessary steps to finance the construction of the two reactors, including but not limited to the granting of state guarantees to the project’s financiers”. It will also be responsible for implementing the “Contracts for Difference” support mechanism. The construction of Cernavoda 3&4 has an estimated cost of€7bn ($7.4bn).

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. Cernavoda 1&2 supply about one-fifth of Romania’s electricity. The Cernavoda 3&4 project aims to complete two further Candu 6 reactors.