European Commission signs off on Romanian nuclear plans

July 10, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
The partially constructed Units 3 and 4 at Cernavoda nuclear plant in Romania. (Image: Nuclearelectrica)

The European Commission has issued a positive opinion on the technical and nuclear safety aspects of the construction of Units 3 and 4 at Cernavoda nuclear power plant in Romania.

Under the Euratom Treaty, nuclear project developers are required to notify the EC of planned investments and to demonstrate compliance with the highest nuclear safety standards.

Cernavoda, the only nuclear power plant in Romania, comprises two 650-MWe CANDU-6 reactors. Unit 1 entered commercial operation in 1996 and Unit 2 in 2007. State-owned utility Nuclearelectrica, which operates the plant, plans to extend the operating life of Unit 1 to 60 years.

Cernavoda-3 is scheduled to start commercial operation in 2030 and Unit 4, the following year.

Quotable: In a note to investors, Nuclearelectrica chief executive Cosmin Ghiță said, “The adoption of the positive view of the European Commission is a confirmation of our commitment to technical excellence and nuclear safety. We are delighted with this significant progress, and we are confident that the project of Units 3 and 4 at CNE Cernavoda will make a decisive contribution to Romania's energy security and sustainability.”

He added, “The Nuclearelectrica team is ready to implement the Commission’s recommendations and to successfully move forward with the next stages of the project. We also thank the Ministry of Energy for its assiduous efforts to accelerate the Romanian nuclear program, which includes the refurbishment of Unit 1, the design of Units 3 and 4 at CNE Cernavoda, and the construction of small modular reactors.”

Romanian minister of energy Sebastian Burduja said in a statement, “Reactors 3 and 4 represent key pillars of the national energy strategy; the two units will make an essential contribution in ensuring energy security at national and regional level. We are talking about production in the clean energy band, with zero emissions. Our country needs big projects, and Romania’s expertise in nuclear engineering makes us responsible for carrying on the tradition of 40 years of safe technology.”

A closer look: EnergoNuclear, a subsidiary of Nuclearelectrica, notified the EC about the planned construction of two Canadian-designed CANDU-6 pressurized heavy water reactors as Cernavoda-3 and -4 in May 2023.

Once the new units are operational, Cernavoda will support more than 19,000 jobs and help Romania avoid roughly 20 million tons of carbon emissions annually.

Romania’s government adopted an agreement in March 2023 to support Nuclearelectrica’s proposed units. The commitments given by the law include the government taking “the necessary steps to finance the construction of the two reactors, including but not limited to the granting of state guarantees to the project’s financiers.”

Also in 2023, Canada agreed to provide C$3 billion (about $2.2 billion) for the new Cernavoda units.


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