Kerry announces more U.S.-backed nuclear plans for Europe

September 11, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News


During a side event held at last week’s Three Seas Initiative Summit in Bucharest, Romania, special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry announced U.S. actions to further the role of new nuclear technologies in accelerating the clean energy transition in Europe.

These actions, according to a September 7 media note from the U.S. State Department, expand on Romania’s leadership role in deploying the first small modular reactor in Europe and in converting a former Romanian coal plant to an SMR facility.

Building on his rollout of the Project Phoenix initiative at last year’s COP27 climate change conference in Egypt, Kerry said that proposals from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia have been selected to participate in the project and will receive support for coal-to-SMR feasibility studies.

The former U.S. secretary of state additionally noted that the American and Slovakian governments will cohost a Project Phoenix launch event, including a workshop with foreign partners, in Bratislava on November 9.

The side event took place at the University Politehnica of Bucharest and also featured the NuScale SMR simulator training center installed at the university earlier this year. Joining Kerry at the event were senior government officials from the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, as well as senior executives from the nuclear industry.

For your shopping convenience: While in Bucharest, Kerry also launched the Nuclear Expediting the Energy Transition (NEXT) One Stop Shop for SMR Support program. The One Stop Shop will provide European and Eurasian countries approaching SMR-deployment decisions with a NEXT virtual center, where they can apply for a suite of advanced project preparation tools and services, the State Department said. Services may include in-person technical, financial, and regulatory consultancies and advisory services; expert study tours to visit U.S. nuclear facilities, national laboratories, and universities; competitively selected provision of an SMR simulator to support workforce development as a regional training hub; and university-to-university partnerships for curricula development, faculty and graduate student and other educational exchanges to support the next generation of nuclear engineers, operators, and technicians who prioritize the highest international standards of nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation.

Both Project Phoenix and NEXT One Stop Shop are subprograms of the State Department’s Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology, or FIRST, program.

In case you missed it: Six companies—NuScale Power, Romania’s nuclear plant operator Nuclearelectrica, E-Infra, Nova Power & Gas, Fluor Enterprises, and Samsung C&T Corporation—signed a memorandum of understanding on June 13 to collaborate on the deployment of NuScale’s VOYGR SMR plants in Central and Eastern Europe, starting with Romania.

The firms’ combined experience will provide support for plant deployment in critical areas of development, such as project planning, licensing, permitting, engineering, procurement, construction, operation, maintenance, decommissioning, financing, and local resources capitalization, Nuclearelectrica said in a press release, “thus enabling regional SMR like-minded states to benefit from the experience and deploy SMRs safely and in line with the national energy needs.”

In September of last year, Nuclearelectrica and E-Infra subsidiary Nova Power & Gas—a supplier and distributor of electricity and natural gas in Romania—launched a joint venture, RoPower Nuclear, for the development of a NuScale SMR. RoPower was tasked with developing a VOYGR-6 power plant (housing six 77-MWe NuScale Power Modules for a total of 462 MWe) this decade at the site of a former coal-fired plant owned by E-Infra in Doicești, Romania.

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