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Romania to expand its Cernavoda NPP with US support

Romania signed a draft intergovernmental agreement with the United States to cooperate on the expansion and modernisation of Romania’s civil nuclear power program.

In the framework of the agreement initialled by US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Romania’s Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Development Virgil Popescu the US will finance the refurbishing of the first reactor at Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear power plant and the construction of units 3 and 4.

An American company, AECOM will lead the 8 billion US dollars project in the framework of a wider North Atlantic cooperation, which will include Canadian and French companies.

Minister Popescu also met the president and chairwoman of the US Exim Bank, Kimberley Reed, “to execute a Memorandum of Understanding for the financing of the Cernavoda nuclear project and other projects in Romania”, announced US ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman.

“This financing package would be the largest ever received by Romania,” the Ambassador noted, remarking that the bilateral relationship between the two countries has never been stronger.

“Nuclear energy is crucial to ensuring Romania has a reliable, affordable, and emissions-free supply of electricity, and the US nuclear industry looks forward to providing their expertise to advance this important energy source,” said US Secretary Dan Brouillette adding that the agreement will strengthen mutual energy cooperation and energy security for both of the signatories.

“Today, Romania is taking a huge step forward in the development of its strategic partnership with the United States of America, in terms of the energy component, namely cooperation in the civil nuclear field,” said Minister Popescu.

In August 2019, Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis had a meeting with President Trump in Washington where energy security was also on the table and the two counties agreed to urge their industries to work closely together to support Romania’s civil nuclear energy goals. Shortly after that, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Romanian former PM Viorica Dancila signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on civil nuclear energy.

At the request of the center-right minority government, which has been in office since last fall, state-owned company Nucleareletrica, which operates the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, terminated its preliminary cooperation with the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (GCNPC) signed in 2015 and announced that it is looking for other partners.

The Cernavoda nuclear facility has been in operation since 1996. With a total capacity of 1,400 megawatts (MW), the NPP accounts for 6.9 per cent of Romania’s installed electricity capacity and it can generate 22 per cent of the country’s electricity demand (55 TWh last year). Currently, the plant has two CANDU 6 reactors of 655 MW each in operations. The capacity of reactors 3 and 4 was also previously planned to be 1,400 MW, doubling this way the capacity of the nuclear power plant.

Nuclearelectrica stated that the Romanian industry has expertise in the construction of CANDU 6 reactors, the technology used both for currently operating and future reactors, therefore the agreement will also support and promote the Romanian local industry in the investment projects.

Nuclearelectrica noted that nuclear energy will play a key role in achieving Romania’s long-term strategic energy objectives of decarbonisation as it is cost-efficient and increases the security of supply while reducing carbon emissions. The two newly built units are expected to avoid the emission of approximately 10 million tons of CO2 per year.

The Romanian energy firm said that in accordance with the national and European legislation, the draft intergovernmental agreement between Romania and the US will be sent to the European Commission.

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