New Projects, Nuclear, O&M, Reactors

Romanian nuclear utility signs MOU on work leading to 30-year renewal

A Romanian nuclear operator is laying the groundwork for near-future assessment, refurbishment and upgrades to extend the life of its Cernavoda Unit 1 for another three decades.

Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN) awarded a 9.7 million Euro ($10.8 million U.S.) contract to Ansaldo Nucleare and Candu Energy Inc. The contractors will perform condition assessments of systems, structures and components for the Cernavoda Unit 1 CANDU reactor.

The project is a key step for SNN as it prepares for life extension of the 700-MW Cernavoda Unit 1. The contract with Ansaldo and Candu, the latter of which is a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group,  is worth about 35 percent of the entire value of the contract.

“We are delighted to continue our long-term strategic partnership with SNC Lavalin and Ansaldo Nucleare, a partnership that has been supported by the high performance of Cernavoda NPP Units 1 and 2,” Cosmin Ghita, CEO of SNN, said in a statement. “The condition assessment is a key step towards the successful completion of the refurbishment of Unit 1, and we are looking forward to putting back into operation 700 MW for an additional life of 30 years.”

Both of the Cernavoda units are Candu 6 reactors. The Candus are Canadian pressurized heavy-water reactor designs sold to nuclear energy facilities in India, Pakistan, Romania and South Korea.

Cernavoda Unit 1 went into operation 23 years ago, while Unit 2 has been online since 2007. Its owners estimate that the carbon-free output from the nuclear reactor has avoided four million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Together they produce close to 20 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Last month, Romania signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States to cooperate on civil nuclear energy. The State Department announcement called its nuclear cooperation with Romania a long-term commitment to jointly pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Meanwhile, Romanian utility Nuclearelectrica and China General Nuclear signed an MOU four years ago to develop and build Units 3 and 4 at the facility. An investment agreement was completed earlier this year.