Candu Energy, part of Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Group, has been chosen by Romanian nuclear utility Nuclearelectrica SA (SNN), operator of the Cernavoda NPP, to conduct optimisation work on the unit 1 Candu. SNC-Lavalin will perform axial channel shifting for several fuel channels in unit 1 over three years. This work is essential to allowing the reactor, which supplies 10% of Romania’s electricity, to continue providing power ahead of its proposed longer-term life extension. Performing this work now will bring both time and cost efficiency to the refurbishment process.

Ian L Edwards, President and CEO of SNC-Lavalin, noted: “This new mandate with SNN will ensure that Romania continues to benefit from nuclear energy that is clean, efficient, and affordable- at a time when the need for both energy security and decarbonised sources of electricity have never been more important for Europe and the world.”

SNN CEO Cosmin Ghita said: “Based on SNC-Lavalin’s expertise and professional personnel, we are fully confident that the contract will deliver the outcome we are looking for in terms of strategy, engineering and workings. Cernavoda NPP unit 1 is a strategic electricity generator for Romania and we are keen on maintaining our high nuclear safety standards and results.” 

Axial channel shifting is a maintenance activity that adjusts elongation of the reactor’s fuel channel tubes. SNC-Lavalin has previously conducted related reconfiguration work for other nuclear utilities. This maintenance activity performed in advance of the refurbishment allows for a more cost-efficient and time-efficient refurbishment process. The effective shutdown of Cernavoda 1 for refurbishment is scheduled, based on Nuclearelectrica’s development strategy, for 2027-2029.

The mandate will see SNC-Lavalin personnel deploy onsite to Cernavoda to carry out the work, which will be conducted over two outages. SNC-Lavalin will be responsible for the design, manufacturing, testing, and transportation of the full suite of axial shifting tools and accessories that are required. The Company’s teams will also conduct reactor engineering analysis, develop a strategy to execute the shifting work, and undertake an examination regarding any impact on the reactor design. The mandate builds upon SNC-Lavalin’s work for SNN during the last 10 years, which included providing feeder inspection & replacement services, as well as fuel channel inspection services and safety upgrades for the Cernavoda  reactors.

“As the steward and original equipment manufacturer of Candu technology, we’ve had a long-standing and successful relationship with SNN in Romania since its Candu units came online in 1996 and 2007, and we’re best positioned to carry out this vital work for their reactor core,” said Joe St Julian, President, Nuclear, SNC-Lavalin.

The Cernavoda Nuclear Generating Station comprises two Candu reactors. Since it went into operation in 1996, the unit 1 reactor alone has prevented the release of 4 million tonnes a year of carbon. The Candu technology at the plant has also enhanced Romania’s energy self-sufficiency. Both the nuclear fuel and heavy water required are produced by Romania.

Image: Cernavoda’s units 3 and 4