Romania’s Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN) has won shareholder approval to upgrade unit 1 of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, a 650MWe Candu 6 reactor.  

Cernavoda was initially planned as the site for five Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors. The plant currently has two operating Candu 6 reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and built by a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo. Cernavoda 1 began operation in 1996. Work on a further four units was suspended in 1991, but Cernavoda 2 was subsequently completed and began commercial operation in 2007.

The first phase of the refurbishment project will include activities required to secure the operation of Cernavoda 1 for 30 years. According to SNN, the organisational and logistical modification activities will start in early 2018. These will include the completion of supporting documentation needed for a feasibility study that will be put before shareholders in 2021.

Phase 2 of the project will include awarding the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, obtaining authorisation from the Romanian regulator and procuring equipment and components that have a long manufacturing cycle. The final implementation phase is scheduled to run from December 2026 to December 2028.

The company's CEO, Cosmin Ghita, said that the refurbishment of The Cernavoda 1 upgrade the largest investment project for any energy company in Romania, but is less than half the cost of building a new Candu unit.

Romania is planning to build two new reactors. In November 2015, Nuclearelectrica signed a memorandum of understanding with China General Nuclear Power (CGN) for the development, construction, operation and decommissioning of units 3 and 4 of the Cernavoda plant. The two units will feature identical reactors of no less than 720MWe each involving a total investment of about €7.2bn ($7.8bn), according to CGN.  Nuclearelectrica said a joint venture project company is to be established to oversee construction of the units, with CGN owning at least 51% of the share capital.