US President Joe Biden has said at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Germany that the USA is committing $14 million toward a Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) study to provide the basis for the deployment of a small modular reactor (SMR) power plant in Romania. “This action is the next step in fulfilling the pledge made by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Romania President Klaus Iohannis at the 2021 UN Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow (COP26), where they announced their intent to deploy an SMR in Romania in partnership with US firm NuScale Power,” the State Department noted in a statement. 

This eight-month effort is expected to cost $28 million in total and to include contributions from Romania nuclear utility SN Nuclearelectrica and NuScale, It will provide Romania with key site-specific data – cost, construction, schedule, and licensing details – necessary for the deployment of a NuScale VOYGRTM-6 SMR nuclear power plant.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said: “Nuclear energy, including small modular reactors, represent a critical tool in the fight against climate change, and can also enhance energy security and boost economic prosperity. This is a strong step forward in support of Romania’s desire to deploy innovative, safe, and zero-emissions nuclear energy in partnership with the United States.”

“When fully implemented, this multi-billion-dollar effort will showcase the ability of advanced nuclear reactors to replace coal generation with clean, innovative nuclear energy, while creating thousands of jobs, and reaffirming the fact that climate change initiatives and sustainable economic growth go hand-in-hand,” the State Department said. “By partnering with the United States, Romania is also ensuring its investments in nuclear energy uphold the highest standards for nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation, while contributing to the consolidation of energy security in the region.”

Enoh T. Ebong, Director of the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), said: “This FEED study would build upon USTDA’s existing commitments to deploy cutting-edge US SMR solutions to the region, including grant funding for a study that helped Romania identify and assess several locations where existing coal-fired power plants could be replaced with SMR plants. Our engagement is having the intended result of creating new business opportunities for US industry in an important market and advancing energy security across the region.”

Romanian Prime minister Nicolae Ciuca said that the decision is an essential step for the Romanian civilian nuclear field. "Along with the construction of reactors 3&4 at the Cernavoda power plant, the use of the new type of SMR technology will contribute to strengthening Romania's energy profile, in accordance with the European vision for environmental protection and with the assumed decarbonisation targets," Ciuca said in a press release.

In a post on social media, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis also praised the move as an essential step towards energy independence, with energy security being “a joint objective of the Romania-US strategic partnership.”

In May, Nuclearelectrica and NuScale announced that the first SMR in Romania will be deployed by 2030 at the former Doicesti power plant in Dambovita county. The site was identified following an examination process conducted within a $1.2 million grant from the USTDA awarded to Nuclearelectrica in early 2021. Nuclearelectrica is planning to deploy a NuScale 6-module, 462 MWe power plant in Doicesti by the end of the decade.

Image: Doicesti SMR site – graphic render (photo courtesy of Nuclearelectrica)