Romanian nuclear utility SN Nuclearelectrica (SNN) on 30 July received a delegation from the US Department for Energy (DOE) led by Dr Kathryn D Huff, Deputy Secretary for Nuclear Energy, for a working visit to the Cernavoda NPP. In October 2020, Romania and the USA initialised an Intergovernmental Agreement on the cooperation in the civil nuclear industry field, which was subsequently endorsed by the European Commission. SNN said the Agreement represents the general framework for continued implementation of strategic nuclear projects to support Romania’s energy strategy aimed at achieving decarbonisation targets, energy security and the efficient transition to clean energy.

In June, SNN had announced the adoption by the Romanian Parliament of a draft law ratifying the Agreement with the US, which includes cooperation on the Cernavoda nuclear project – the refurbishment of units 1,3 & 4. The government had adopted the draft law in March. Cernavoda has two commercially operational Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and built under the supervision of a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo. began in the 1980s. Cernavoda 1 (700Mwe) was commissioned in 1996 and Cernavoda 2 in 2007. Construction of three more units was stopped in 1990. The Cernavoda 3&4 project aims to complete and commission two further Candu 6 reactors. SNN said the two units currently comprise the reactor building, the turbine-generator building and hydrotechnical circuit structures in various stages of completion.

According Romania’s strategy, construction of Cernavoda 3 and 4 is structured in three stages: a preparatory Stage estimated to last 24 months in which technical, legal and financial assistance services will be contracted; the Preliminary Works stage, with an estimated duration of 18-24 months, in which the engineering, procurement, construction contractor will carry out the critical engineering part of the project and the nuclear safety documentation; and the final stage of construction that will last 69-78 months. SNN said it is estimated that unit 3 will begin commercial operation in 2030, and unit 4 in 2031.

"The Romanian energy system needs resilience and sustainability, and the expansion of nuclear capacity in Romania, in the context of the current transition to a clean economy, meets these needs, leads to economic and social growth, supply chain development, a necessary requirement in the decarbonisation paradigm,” said SNN General Manager Cosmin Ghita. The operation of four Candu units will also lead to the indirect creation of approximately 19,000 jobs at industry level and the training of new generations of specialists simultaneously with the avoidance of 20 million tons of CO2 a year, he added.