Romanian nuclear utility Nuclearelectrica on 24 June announced the adoption by the Romanian Parliament of a draft law on the ratification of the Agreement between the Romanian Government and the United States Government on the cooperation regarding the Cernavoda nuclear project – the refurbishment of units 1,3 & 4. The Government adopted the draft law for the ratification of the agreement in March and the legislation was sent to the Parliament in an emergency procedure. The Chamber of Deputies adopted the bill on 12 May followed by a positive Senate vote in June.

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. Construction of the two-unit station began in the early 1980s. Cernavoda 1 has a capacity of 700MWe, and accounts for about 10% of Romania’s electricity demands. It was commissioned and began commercial full power operation in December 1996. Cernavoda 2 was commissioned in 2007. Construction of three more units began, but was stopped in 1990. The Cernavoda 3&4 project aims to complete and commission two further Candu 6 reactors. According to Nuclearelectrica, the two units currently comprise the reactor building, the turbine-generator building and hydrotechnical circuit structures in various stages of completion.

In October 2020, Romania and the USA initialised an Intergovernmental Agreement on the cooperation in the civil nuclear industry field, which was subsequently notified and endorsed by the European Commission. Ratification of the Agreement represents the general framework for the continuation and implementation of strategic nuclear projects assumed by Romania in the energy strategy and as a pillar for achieving decarbonisation targets, energy security and the efficient transition to clean energy.

“I welcome and appreciate the efforts of all factors involved in the adoption of the draft law for the ratification of the Agreement. From the operator’s point of view, time is an important variable in carrying out projects and our goal is to have unit 3 connected to the grid in 2030 and unit 4 in 2031,” said Nuclearelectrica CEO Cosmin Ghita. “Thus, Romania will align itself with the states that heavily capitalise on domestic resources to ensure the transition, as well as the energy consumption at sustainable prices considering that, for example, based on the international studies, the cost of electricity resulting from the extension of the nuclear units lifetime is the lowest of all sources, and that new nuclear projects are considered competitive. Therefore, nuclear projects come with a double advantage: competitive costs and zero CO2 emissions.”

Romania is keeping its options open, however, having also signed a declaration of intent with France in October 2020 for a partnership on the construction of reactors 3&4 and the upgrade of Cernavoda 1, and also signed a contract in February with a subsidiary of Canada’s Ontario Power Generation to support refurbishment of Cernavoda.