Nuclearelectrica and NuScale sign MoU, site chosen for SMR

24 May 2022

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) means that NuScale, Nuclearelectrica and E-INFRA will carry out engineering studies, technical analyses and licensing activities for the site of a former thermal power plant at Doicești, the location selected for Romania's first small modular reactor.

The USA and Romania have a long history of nuclear cooperation (Image: Virgil Popescu/Twitter)

Romania’s Nuclearelectrica and the US firm NuScale, plus the owner of the proposed side, E-INFRA, signed the MoU at a workshop organised in Bucharest by the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) in partnership with the US Department of Commerce.

Last year USTDA gave a USD1.2 million grant to Nuclearelectrica to identify and evaluate potential sites for a small modular reactor (SMR). Nuclearelectrica’s CEO Cosmin Ghiță, said the selected site fully met the criteria and "is available in a timely manner to meet Romania’s objectives for the deployment of SMRs in this decade and to enable Romania to become a hub for the deployment of small modular reactors in the region".

NuScale’s SMR technology is the first to have gained approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in August 2020.

Romania’s energy minister Virgil Popescu said: "I thank our American partners for supporting Romania's nuclear programmes, a bilateral strategic partnership started in the 1980s. I am proud that Romania's over 50 years of experience in the field of nuclear energy is recognised and confirmed with every step forward, which allows us to become one of the first countries to implement the innovative and safe technology of small modular reactors."

Nuclearelectrica’s Ghiță said: "The choice of location and the conclusion of the MoU with NuScale and E-INFRA advance the implementation of NuScale technology and take place almost three years after our first MoU with NuScale, during which time we analysed the technology, its safety, maturity and preparation for implementation, respecting international and national criteria. We are confident in the potential that the Doicești site has to host the first NuScale SMR in Europe. Preliminary site assessments show that safety standards for nuclear power plants can be met in all respects. The site will also be subject to further examinations in accordance with standard requirements during the licensing process."

John Hopkins, president and CEO of NuScale, said: "Today's announcement is a further step in the partnership with Nuclearelectrica to develop NuScale technology for small modular reactors in Romania and to support the achievement of climate goals, while benefiting from economic growth. We are pleased to work with Nuclearelectrica and E-INFRA in the next stage of site analysis and to demonstrate the benefits of our technology to Romanians."

Teofil Mureșan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of E-INFRA, a holding company that includes Nova Power & Gas, said: "The old coal-fired power plant in Doicești will return to the National Energy System, with the same installed power, in an ultra-modern, sustainable technology, with a long life. It is a replicable model, almost perfect from an energy and economic point of view, in which the new energy capacity is integrated using the existing connections to the utilities."

First simulator outside the USA

Nuclearelectrica’s Ghiță said that the goal was for Romania to have a leading position in supporting the production and assembly of SMR components, and to become established as a training center for future operators and specialists. As part of this, he said Romania was proud that it will have the first simulator for the control room of a NuScale SMR in Europe, which will be used for the training of the new generation of engineers.

NuScale said that its SMR simulator, being set up in collaboration with the US and Romanian governments, will be installed at the University Politehnica of Bucharest to support workforce capacity building of Romania’s next generation of nuclear experts, technologists and operators.

It will be the fourth in total, but the first outside the USA and would "serve as a critical workforce development tool for Nuclearelectrica and the Romanian nuclear workforce, enabling them to conduct research and training related to the use of SMRs for flexible, secure and safe operation, demonstration of real-time response to normal and off-normal conditions, and electricity generation," said NuScale’s Hopkins.

"Romania has a renowned school of nuclear engineers, a vast nuclear industry supply chain and an appreciated nuclear research and development centre. Furthermore, Romania and the USA have a strong partnership in the nuclear industry going back to the early 80s. Placing the E2 Centre in Politehnica University will continue our long and successful collaboration," Ghiță added.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News