Romania’s Government will pull out of the deal with China for the construction of reactors 3 and 4 at the Cernavoda NPP, prime minister Ludovic Orban announced in an interview with Hotnews.ro on 22 January. “It is clear to me that the partnership with the Chinese company is not going to work,” Orban said, adding that the government has already started to look for a new partner and financing for this project. He added that any new projects in Romania’s energy sector will depend on the European Union’s Green Deal aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.
In 2015, Cernavoda operator, state-owned electricity producer Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN), signed a memorandum of understanding with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) for the construction of two new reactors (3 and 4). However, cooperation between Nuclearelectrica and CGN became uncertain after Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis and US president Donald Trump signed a joint declaration on energy co-operation in August 2019.
Romanian former minister Ramona Manesco told a forum in Brussels in 2019 that the aim is to refurbish Cernavoda 1 and by 2030 to build a new unit on the same site, although beyond 2030 Romania is considering new Generation IV reactors including small modular reactors.
Also on 22 January, SNN signed a contract with Candu Energy, part of the SNC-Lavalin Group to prepare Cernavoda 1, A Candu-6 pressurised heavy water reactor, for life extension. The $10.8 million contract for engineering analyses and assessments is focused on the fuel channel and feeders assemblies with the objective of extending the operating life of the plant by approximately 4 years, up to 245,000 effective full power hours (EFPH) from the original design life of 210,000 EFPH. Such an extension will enable the plant to continue operating safely until it is ready for refurbishment in 2026. This contract is within SNCL Engineering Services, the cornerstone of our strategy moving forward to greater growth and profitability, SNC-Lavalin said.
In October 2019, SNN had also awarded SNC-Lavalin and its partner Ansaldo Nucleare the condition assessment work which will determine the scope of repair and replacement of other equipment as part of the Cernavoda 1 refurbishment outage. “SNC-Lavalin looks forward to continuing our long relationship with SNN to optimise the operation of Cernavoda 1 in preparation for a refurbishment that will contribute to over 60 years of Candu reactor life,” said Sandy Taylor, President, Nuclear, SNC-Lavalin
Cernavoda 1 produces over 700 MW of electricity, about 10 per cent of Romania’s electricity demands. It was commissioned and began commercial full power operation in December 1996 and provides 10% of the electricity production in Romania. Construction of the two-unit NPP began in the early 1980s. Unit 2, also a Candu reactor, was commissioned in 2007. Construction of three more units began, but was stopped in 1990.