Originally designed to have 5 units, the nuclear power plant in Cernavodă, the only one in Romania, is still working today, 24 years since the first reactor became operational in 1996, with only 2 completed units, which cover around 20% of the country’s electricity demand. In the meantime, Unit 5, whose construction started in 1987, has been repurposed.
For Units 3 and 4, the construction of which was suspended in 1992 after only around 15% of the works were completed, a number of solutions have been searched. Talks with China in this respect had made considerable progress in recent years. But this summer, Bucharest canceled the contract, and instead an intergovernmental agreement between Romania and the US was signed a few days ago in Washington.
This is a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement to refurbish Unit 1 and build Units 3 and 4 using the same CANDU Canadian technology as for the first 2 reactors. Once operational, Reactors 3 and 4 will double the production capacity of the nuclear power plant.
The agreement also includes academic cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, including cooperation for a new small, modular reactor technology developed by the Americans, the minister of economy, energy and the business environment Virgil Popescu said, upon signing the document.
The project is to be implemented in the next 10 years by a consortium of companies from the US, Romania, Canada and France, headed by an American company and with financial support from all stakeholders.
According from a news release from the US Energy Department, “this historic agreement will lay the foundation for Romania to utilize U.S. expertise and technology […] It underscores the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Romania and our mutual commitment to energy security in the region. Nuclear energy is crucial to ensuring Romania has a reliable, affordable, and emissions-free supply of electricity".
This 8-billion USD project is the largest financing package ever received by Romania, which proves the confidence the US has in its long-time partner and ally, the US Ambassador to Romania said in his turn. Adrian Zuckerman also announced plans for a large-scale infrastructure project: “We are embarking on a new project for Romania, with Poland, to build a highway and railroad from Constanta on the Black Sea to Gdansk on the Baltic Sea. This infrastructure project will be a tremendous boon to the Romanian and Polish economies, and regional economies, for years to come,” Adrian Zuckerman said.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)