Nuclearelectrica to develop Cernavoda 3&4

14 June 2023

A Support Agreement has been signed between the Romanian State and nuclear utility Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN), for the development of the National Strategic Project to complete units 3&4 at the Cernavoda NPP.

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. 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.

SNN CEO Cosmin Ghi?a said the signing of the Support Agreement shows the firm support of the Romanian State for the development of the Romanian nuclear programme. He thanked the Presidency, the Government and Parliament, the Secretariat General of the Government, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Finance for supporting the continuation of this project. “Units 3&4, which are scheduled to enter commercial operation in 2030 and 2031 respectively, will add another 10 TWh of clean, stable and affordable energy to the national energy system, supporting energy security,” he said. “In addition, the four units at Cernavoda will generate about 66% of Romania’s clean energy, with an impact on achieving Romania’s decarbonisation targets.”

By signing the Support Agreement, the State is committed to taking the necessary steps to finance project. This includes:

  • Granting state guarantees to the financiers of the project, within the framework of any intergovernmental support agreements or memoranda or outside such agreements;
  • Implementing a Contracts for Difference scheme and adopting administrative and/or legislative measures to ensure compliance with the technical criteria set out in the European Commission’s Complementary Delegated Act;
  • Contribution in kind supplying heavy water and U3O8 for the first nuclear fuel load, cooling water for the operation of the two units and the completion of the electricity transmission lines necessary for the purpose of connection to the National Energy System.

The Cernavoda expansion project will be implemented based on the Continuation Strategy, approved by SNN shareholders in 2021, in three stages, in line with international experience in NPP construction.

Stage 1, which began in 2021, is the preparatory stage involving capitalisation and operation of project company, Energonuclear. This two-year stage included preparing set of engineering and safety documentation required for project start-up and necessary for the substantiation of a preliminary investment decision. As part of this phase, in November 2021, Energonuclear signed the first contract with Candu Energy, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group and Candu Design Authority and OEM (the original manufacturer of Candu technology) for the Project. Under the contract, Candu Energy will provide engineering services to develop and update the required documentation.

Stage 2, (Preliminary Works), which begins with the signing of the Support Agreement is estimated to take up to 30 months and will include:

  • Conclusion of contracts for the development of critical engineering necessary to update the project;
  • Updating the project budget;
  • Structuring and contracting financing and agreeing an appropriate contractual architecture for implementation of the project;
  • Obtaining the favourable Opinion of the European Commission following the notification of the project according to article 41 of the Euratom Treaty and respectively of a positive decision in accordance with the relevant European provisions on state aid;
  • Obtaining Nuclear Security Authorisation for the construction stage and making the Final Investment Decision.

Stage 3, estimated to take 69-78 months, will involve mobilisation of the site, commencement of construction, and commissioning and commencement of commercial operation of the two units.

SNN said the intention is to carry out this project in a Euro-Atlantic consortium on the basis of an inter-governmental agreement between Romania and the USA on cooperation in connection with nuclear power projects at Cernavoda and in the civil nuclear energy sector in Romania. During COP 27, in November 2022, US Exim Bank (EXIM) issued two letters of interest for the financing of technical services provided by the US in connection with the Cernavoda 3&4.

Based on the preliminary information presented, EXIM may consider funding up to $50m from the US export contract for pre-project technical services as part of the Engineering Multiplier Program (EMP) during Stage 2 of the project. In Stage 3, it may consider funding up to $3bn from the US export contract for engineering and project management services.

Image: Signing of the Support Agreement between the Romanian State and Nuclearelectrica for the development of the National Strategic Project Units 3 and 4 Cernavoda NPP (courtesy of SNN)

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