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Romania strengthens nuclear cooperation with Canada

Romania and Canada have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Bucharest to strengthen cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, enabling the completion, refurbishment and possible expansion of Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear power plant. Romania signed similar agreements with the US and France last year.

“Today, we made another important step for the future of nuclear energy in Romania,” highlighted Virgil Popescu, Romania’s Minister of Energy. “We will collaborate with our partner Canada on the development of nuclear reactors of SNN, Romania’s state-owned nuclear energy company, including collaboration on CANDU refurbishments and new build projects in Romania,” said the Minister.

Cernavoda is the first and only nuclear power generating facility in Romania, operating since 1996. The facility, with two 706 megawatts (MW) operating units, currently fulfils 18 per cent of Romania’s electricity demand. The facility is owned and operated by the state-owned Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN). The Cernavoda NPP uses Canadian Deuterium Uranium 6 (CANDU-6) pressurised heavy-water reactor technology.

Romania has long wanted to complete two additional CANDU units at Cernavoda and is also making plans to refurbish the two operational units there for longer service lives. In October 2020, Romania signed an intergovernmental agreement with the US for the construction of units 3 and 4 and the refurbishment of unit 1. American company AECOM will coordinate the 8 billion US dollars project, which includes a consortium of companies from the US, Romania, Canada and France. The MoU with Canada includes an explicit provision to set up multilateral discussions between several governments jointly implementing work at Cernavoda.

Romanian prime minister Florin Cîțu highlighted that sustainable economic growth needs investment.

“The MOU signed today with Canada makes an important statement: clean energy is our common goal,” the Prime Minister underlined.

Annick Goulet, Canada’s Ambassador to Romania emphasised that nuclear cooperation has been a pillar of the 55-year-long relationship between the two countries.

“I am proud to have renewed our bilateral commitment by signing this MOU today and look forward to further consolidating our exchanges in all spheres, from security to trade,” she added.

The agreement underscores the importance of strategic partnerships between Canada and Romania, including common climate change objectives and mutual interest in decarbonising electricity systems to meet net-zero emissions by 2050.

“It is obvious that many countries do see in nuclear an opportunity to reach that new energy mix, that will lead us all towards the envisaged decarbonisation,” said Cosmin Ghiță, the CEO of Nuclearelectrica in an interview with CEENERGYNEWS. “The 3 and 4 Units from Cernavoda are a necessity for Romania to meet its energy needs after 2030,” he added.

Each reactor from the Cernavoda power plants expected to 5 million CO2 tonnes being evacuated into the atmosphere, making 20 million tonnes the total savings if the 3 and 4 Units will be built. The goal is to have unit 3 connected to the grid in 2030 and unit 4 in 2031.

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