EC approves completion of Romanian reactors

04 July 2024

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

The partially constructed units 3 and 4 at Cernavoda (Image: Nuclearelectrica)

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

Energonuclear - a wholly owned subsidiary of utility Nuclearelectrica - notified the Commission about the planned construction of two Canadian-designed Candu-6 pressurised heavy water reactors as Cernavoda 3 and 4 in May 2023.

The positive opinion received from the Commission "is the result of an elaborate analysis of the information provided by the Romanian side, visits to the Cernavoda site and technical discussions over a period of 13 months", Nuclearelectrica noted. "The Commission's assessment is that the project to complete the construction of units 3 and 4 at Cernavoda is in line with the objectives of the Euratom Treaty.

"This positive view is accompanied by the usual recommendations for such projects, which aim at the appropriate application of the Euratom framework in the implementation and during the lifetime of the project. These recommendations will be implemented by the project developer in the next steps."

Nuclearelectrica CEO Cosmin Ghita added: "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 Cernavoda will make a decisive contribution to Romania’s energy security and sustainability."

The EC's positive opinion was also welcomed by Romanian Minister of Energy Sebastian Burduja. "Today the European Commission confirms our progress and the construction of the two new reactors moves to the next stage," he said. "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."

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

In October 2022, Romania said Canada and the USA were both offering to help with the financing of the construction of Cernavoda 3 and 4, which has an estimated cost of EUR7 billion (USD7.4 billion).

Romania's government adopted a law in March last year approving a support agreement with Nuclearelectrica for the 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". It will also be responsible for the implementation of the "Contracts for Difference" support mechanism.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News