RoPower Nuclear established to develop SMRs in Romania

5 October 2022

Romanian nuclear utility Compania Na?ionala Nuclearelectrica (SNN) and Romanian private company Nova Power & Gas have launched RoPower Nuclear - a project company for development of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Romania - on the site of the former coal-fired power plant in Doicesti, Dambovita County. Jose W Fernandez, US Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, US Department of State, and Romanian Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu observed the signing ceremony of the Shareholders Declaration, at Romania’s Ministry of Energy.

RoPower Nuclear will take steps towards deploying the first NuScale VOYGR-6 (462MWe) power plant in Romania this decade. The power plant will use the NuScale Power Module technology of NuScale, the only SMR company so far to obtained design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The installed capacity can also be supplemented with renewables amounting to a capacity of around 80MWe, which would make the new energy complex exceed the capacity of the former Doicesti plant. The joint nuclear-renewable solution would represent not only an optimal production capacity, with the ability to vary output, but also a vision of the generation sources for the power grid of the future.

“We are proud that we will develop in Romania a safe power plant that offers clean and cost-effective energy, bringing at the same time multiple benefits for the local community,” said SNN CEO Cosmin Ghita. “With energy independence and energy security as the highest objectives, Romania will be a leader for the deployment of small modular reactors in the region and the new company, RoPower Nuclear an example of best practices in implementing the highest nuclear safety standards, performance, and productivity, following the example set by Cernavoda NPP for more than 25 years.”

Teodor Chirica, President of the SNN Board, added: “The long cooperation between the United States and Romania in the nuclear field has a very successful track record. Thus, I am firmly convinced that the RoPower Nuclear will have an excellent cooperation with both the US nuclear industry and Romanian industry, under the frame of the USA-Romania strategic partnership, providing clean energy and security of supply for our country and the region.”

SNN operates under the authority of the Romanian Ministry of Energy, with the state owning 82.49% of the shares and other shareholders, 17.50. The Cernavoda NPP operates two Candu nuclear units, which contribute more than 18% of total energy production.

The US-Romania partnership has developed significantly since 2019, when SNN and NuScale signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to evaluate the development, authorisation and construction of SMRs in Romania. In 2020, Romania signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the USA on nuclear energy, which was also ratified by the Romanian Parliament, while US Exim Bank concluded a MOU with Romania’s Ministry of Energy on energy investment projects in Romania totalling $7 billion. In 2021 NuScale and SNN signed a collaboration agreement to accelerate the implementation of the first SMR in Europe. Nuclearelectrica received $1.2 million in funding from the USTDA to identify and evaluate potential sites for SMRs.

Earlier in 2022, several suitable potential sites were identified and the former thermal power plant in Doice?ti qualified as a candidate site for further in-depth studies and development. In May Nuclearelectrica, NuScale and E-Infra (the owner of the site) signed a MOU to analyse the development of the first SMR in Doice?ti.

In June, US President Joe Biden allocated a $14 million grant for the next stage of NuScale SMR development in Romania – the preliminary engineering and initial design (FEED) study for the project. Within the FEED Study, IAEA recommendations will be applied, following the IAEA Site Design and External Events (SEED) mission carried out in August 2022, at the request of SNN.

Image: L-R, Romanian Energy Minister Virgil Popescu, E-Infra CEO Teofil Muresan, Nuclearelectrica Chairman Teodor Chirica and US Under Secretary for Economic Development, Energy & Environment Jose Fernandez (courtesy of Nuclearelectrica)

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