Ansaldo Nucleare, SACE and Nuclearelectrica sign Cernavoda MoU

16 February 2024

Italian finance and insurance group SACE, Ansaldo Nucleare and Romania's Nuclearelectrica have signed a memorandum of understanding relating to the life extension of Cernavoda unit 1 and the development of units 3 and 4.

The MoU was signed in Rome (Image: Italy's Minister of Business)

The agreement aims to structure a financing line backed by SACE for up to EUR2 billion (USD2.15 billion) with Ansaldo Nucleare set to supply engineering, project management services, procurement and commissioning of components and systems. It was signed at the Ministry of Business in Italy, in the presence of Italian Business Minister Adolfo Urso, and Romania's Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism, Stefan-Radu Oprea.

Urso took the opportunity to suggest it was time for a rethink on nuclear energy policy in Italy, saying: "The agreement between Ansaldo Nucleare, SACE and the Romanian nuclear energy company consolidates Italian leadership in the nuclear energy sector. Today's signature invites us to seriously consider reopening the road to nuclear power for Italy: our country has a rich scientific heritage, a notable technological capacity and companies that demonstrate a constant commitment to developing their potential, also abroad."

Cosmin Ghita, Nuclearelectrica CEO, said that refurbishing Cernavoda 1 and the completion of units 3 and 4 will mean the plant providing 66% of Romania's clean energy after 2031: "With nuclear energy as an 24/7 available source and over 90% capacity factor, Nuclearelectrica’s nuclear expansion investments will greatly benefit Romania’s long-term energy security, reliability and value chain socio-economic development, from Romanian suppliers’ chain growth to job creation and a new generation of nuclear specialists." He added that their partnership with Ansaldo Nucleare dated back to the commissioning of the first unit with long-time cooperation based on performance and professionalism. "We highly appreciate SACE’s joining of this MoU and the level of confidence shown to nuclear power production facilities in Romania," he added.

Filippo Giansante, SACE chairman, said: "We are pleased to be an active part of Italy's support to the Romanian nuclear programme. Our intervention will support Ansaldo Nucleare and, with it, the entire Italian nuclear supply chain."

Daniela Gentile, CEO of Ansaldo Nucleare, said it was pleased to continue working with Nuclearelectrica, "a historical partner with whom we have a relationship of trust that has lasted for over 40 years. Thanks to SACE we can put our expertise at the service of Romania's growth and development, with benefits for the entire Italian energy supply chain".

Cernavoda is the only nuclear power plant in Romania and consists of two 650 MWe Candu reactors. Unit 1 went into commercial operation in 1996 and unit 2 in 2007. Nuclearelectrica plans to extend the operating life of unit 1 to 60 years. Most of the work on units 3 and 4 - like units 1 and 2, Candu-6 reactors - was done in the 1980s prior to the fall of the government of Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989. Work is now on-going to construct units 3 and 4, with commercial operation scheduled in 2030 and 2031, respectively.

The unit 1 refurbishment project began in 2017 and is currently in the second of three phases. This phase, due to last from February 2022 to 2026, covers providing the financial resources, negotiating and granting engineering, procurement and construction contracts, assessing, preparing and scheduling the activities to be carried and obtaining all the authorisations and approvals necessary to start the project. The third phase, scheduled for 2027 to 2029, starts with the shutdown of unit 1 and includes all the work required on it and its recommissioning.

In October, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power signed an agreement with Canada's Candu Energy and Ansaldo Nucleare - the original design companies for Cernavoda 1's reactor system and turbine generator system - to jointly carry out a refurbishment of the first unit at Cernavoda.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News