Canada’s Candu Energy, part of the SNC-Lavalin Group on 25 November won a 12-month, $8.4 million contract from Romanian firm, EnergoNuclear SA, to provide engineering services during the preparatory stage of a precursor project to complete units 3&4 at the Cernavoda NPP in Romania.
“The potential to develop two new build nuclear reactors demonstrates that the Romanian government, along with several other of our public sector clients around the world, recognise that safe, reliable, affordable, low-carbon nuclear energy is how we will combat and ultimately, win the battle against climate change,’’ said Ian Edwards, president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin.
Cernavoda, Romania's only nuclear power plant, 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 700MWe 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. Nuclearelectrica is already working with Candu Energy on extending the operational life of Cernavoda 1 until 2026 when it would undergo a full refurbishment, as well as on completion of units 3 & 4.
This contract follows the signing of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between Romania and the United States in 2020, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in August 2021 between Romania and Canada to strengthen and further develop the cooperation in nuclear energy civil projects. It builds on the 55-year relationship between Romania and Canada in developing nuclear projects.
“We are pleased to expand our relationship with Romania, Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN), EnergoNuclear SA and our US partners for this potential new build project. Romania is familiar with Candu technology since its first two Candu units came online in 1996 and 2007 and have been providing reliable power ever since,” said Sandy Taylor, President, Nuclear.
A Nuclearelectrica press release announced “the advancement of the Candu 3 & 4 units project, with the signing of the contract with Candu Energy, “the Design Authority for units 3&4 and OEM". Under the contract, Candu Energy will provide engineering services for the development and updating of documentation necessary for the start of the project (including updating basic licensing documents, updating nuclear safety guidelines, updating the list of project changes with nuclear safety functions, etc).
The Candu units 3&4 project was approved in April 2021 by the Ordinary General Meeting of Nuclearelectrica Shareholders, and is to be implemented in three stages. The preparatory stage began with the capitalisation and operationalisation of the project company, Energonuclear SA, and will last 24 months, during which time technical, legal, financial and engineering assistance services will be contracted and the necessary studies and evaluations will be performed.
Nuclearelectrica CEO Cosmin Ghi?a noted: “In addition to the security and stability of the national energy system, the completion of the new Candu nuclear capabilities will also bring multiple socio-economic benefits: up to 19,000 indirectly generated jobs; 20 million tons of CO2 avoided annually with 4 units in operation; the contribution of nuclear energy to total national energy production will increase to 36%, and the contribution of nuclear energy to total CO2-free energy production at national level will increase to 66%.”
Romanian Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu welcoming the contract said: “The partnership with the USA and Canada will allow our country to achieve the decarbonisation goals it assumes. This is an important step and I am very optimistic that in the future we will be an energy independent country."
First Deputy Secretary for Nuclear Energy at the US Department of Energy, Dr Kathryn Huff said the 2020 IGA between Romania and the USA “demonstrates the common interests of nations to work together to achieve energy security and decarbonisation goals”. The signing the contract “is a major step, supports the IGA objectives and continues the strong relationship between our countries in the field of nuclear energy", she added.
"We are pleased that this step has been taken in trade cooperation for the refurbishment and expansion of Romania's nuclear capabilities ," said US Business Officer David Muniz. "Together with our NATO Allies, Romania and Canada, the United States is working to provide Romanians with clean, safe, reliable and accessible energy, while ensuring that reliable partners contribute to Romania's vital national security and energy needs.”
Nuclearelectrica noted: “In October 2020, US Exim Bank expressed, through a Memorandum of Understanding concluded with the Ministry of Energy, the interest to finance large investment projects in Romania, including nuclear ones. Collaboration with the United States in the nuclear field began in 1981, when President Reagan approved the first US Exim loan for the Cernavoda Unit 1 project.”