Electricity

Romania’s Nuclearelectrica launches joint venture for small modular nuclear reactors

Romania Nuclearelectrica joint venture small modular nuclear reactors

Photo: Virgil Popescu / Facebook

Published

September 28, 2022

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Published:

September 28, 2022

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Nuclearelectrica and Nova Power and Gas launched RoPower Nuclear, a project firm for the development of small modular reactors in Romania on the site of a former coal plant. They plan to use NuScale’s technology to build a 462 MW nuclear power plant, with a possibility to add 80 MW in capacity from renewable energy sources.

Project firm RoPower Nuclear, owned in equal shares by Nuclearelectrica and Nova Power and Gas, has a task to deploy the first nuclear power plant made of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Romania by the end of the decade. The two companies signed the agreement on the establishment of the joint venture in the presence of Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu and United States Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose Fernandez.

State-owned Nuclearelectrica said the power plant would use the technology from NuScale, the only SMR company that obtained design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The site is at the former coal-fired power plant in Doiceşti in Dâmboviţa county in central Romania.

Nuclear-renewable hybrid

The plan is to install a VOYGR-6 model of 462 MW in total, with a possibility to supplement it with 80 MW in capacity from renewable sources, according to the announcement. The combination would make the facility a hybrid power plant. VOYGR-6 consists of six modules.

The SMR technology is still in its infancy, mostly applied in pilot projects for now. There are no such nuclear power plants yet in Europe, but many countries are interested.

“We are proud that we will develop in Romania a safe power plant that offers clean and cost-effective energy, bringing in the same time multiple benefits for the local community. With energy independence and energy security as the highest objectives, Romania will be a leader for the deployment of small modular reactors in the region and the new company, RoPower Nuclear, an example of best practices in implementing the highest nuclear safety standards, performance and productivity, following the example set by Cernavoda NPP for more than 25 years,” said Chief Executive Officer of Nuclearelectrica Cosmin Ghiţă.

US provided two grants

Nuclearelectrica and NuScale established cooperation in March 2019. The Doiceşti site was selected after a study funded by a USD 1.2 million grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). US President Joe Biden announced another grant in June – USD 14 million.

The US Export–Import Bank (Exim Bank) has expressed interest in 2020 in financing nuclear energy projects in Romania.

RoPower Nuclear will create more than 200 permanent power plant jobs, 1,500 construction jobs and 2,300 manufacturing jobs, Nuclearelectrica said. Nova Power and Gas is a Romanian privately-owned distributor of electricity and natural gas and developer of renewable energy plants. It is a member of domestic infrastructure group E-Infra.

One other US company, Last Energy, is working on a demonstrator project for an SMR in Romania.

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