Ansaldo and SACE to support Romanian nuclear development

20 February 2024

Italy’s Ansaldo Nucleare, a subsidiary of Ansaldo Energia, along with insurance-financial group SACE (wholly-owned by the Italian Ministry of Economy & Finance) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support Romanian nuclear utility Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN) in the expansion of the Cernavoda NPP. The MOU aims to structure a financing line of up to €2bn ($2.15bn) with the insurance support of SACE to advance the development and financing of strategic projects related to the Cernavoda NPP. These include extending the operating life of unit 1 by 30 years completing construction of two additional units (3&4).

Cernavoda currently hosts two 700 MWe Candu 6 reactors, which came into operation in 1996 and 2007 and together supply approximately 20% of the Romania’s energy needs. Construction of three more units began, but was stopped in 1990. Ansaldo Nucleare participated in the construction of the two units, designed for an operating cycle of 30 years. At the end of 2026, unit 1 will reach this milestone and SNN has started a refurbishment process.

Ansaldo Nucleare will be responsible for the engineering and procurement of components for the life extension of unit 1 in collaboration with the Canadian company Candu Energy (AtkinsRéalis) and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP). Candu Energy will be responsible for the nuclear island and KHNP for the rest of the plant. SNN intends to complete units 3&4 based on the design of unit 2 involving, Ansaldo Nucleare as the original designer of the Balance of Plant.

Ansaldo Nucleare said it will consolidate its role in Romania “by involving the entire Italian nuclear supply chain in this strategic project” and will “organise a Supply Chain Day involving the Italian companies interested in the project, with the aim… of supporting access to the Romanian market by Italian companies with expertise in the sector, promoting Italy's industrial competitiveness”.

SNN CEO Cosmin Ghita said after refurbishment of Cernavoda 1 and completion of units 3&4 in 2031 the plant will generate approximately 66% of Romania’s clean energy. It will also “greatly benefit Romania’s long-term energy security, reliability and value chain socio-economic development, from Romanian suppliers’ chain growth to job creation and a new generation of nuclear specialists”.

He said the partnership with Ansaldo Nucleare is based on long-standing co-operation cooperation “based on performance and professionalism going back to the beginning of unit 1 commissioning, therefore we are looking forward to continuing this partnership for the new units”. He added: “We highly appreciate SACE’s joining the MOU and the level of confidence awarded to nuclear power facilities in Romania”.

SACE Chairman Filippo Giansante welcomed participation in Romania’s nuclear programme, adding: “Our intervention will support Ansaldo Nucleare and, with it, the entire Italian nuclear supply chain.” Ansaldo Nucleare CEO Daniela Gentile said the agreement “allows us to consolidate our collaboration with SNN, a historical partner with whom we have a relationship of trust that has lasted for over 40 years” She added: “Thanks to SACE we can put our expertise at the service of Romania's growth and development, with benefits for the entire Italian energy supply chain."

Refurbishment of unit 1 is in the second phase, which includes providing financial resources for implementation of the project, preparing the execution of the activities identified and defined in phase I and obtaining all the necessary approvals. In November 2023, SNN signed a CAD781m ($579m) contract to extend the life of the unit 1 with Candu Energy and the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), a federal state corporation. Entry into force of the contract is subject to approval by the SNN General Meeting of Shareholders, with CCC receiving final approval from the Canadian government. The contract covers the provision of reactor tools and components, as well as engineering and services. SNN said the procedure related to the Framework Agreement for Project Management and Technical Assistance Services is currently being finalised,

The project to construct units 3&4 is in the first phase, which covers the operationalisation of project company EnergoNuclear, contracting technical and legal assistance services and contracting engineering services to update the necessary technical and nuclear safety documentation. EnergoNuclear was re-activated in September 2021, with technically critical positions being filled, and an engineering service contract was concluded with Candu Energy on the re-evaluation of structures, incorporating project improvements from a nuclear safety perspective.

Image: Representatives from Nuclearelectrica, SACE and Ansaldo Nucleare at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (courtesy of SNN)

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