Biden pledges USD14 million for Romanian SMR project

27 June 2022

The US government, working with NuScale Power, is to provide USD14 million in support for the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) study for Romania's deployment of a first-of-its-kind small modular reactor (SMR) plant as part of a flagship project launched at the Group of Seven (G7) leaders' summit in Germany.

President Biden launches the Partnership for Global Infrastructure in a video shared by the White House

Launching the G7's Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) - an initiative which follows an announcement at last year's G7 summit of plans to develop a values-driven, high-impact, and transparent infrastructure partnership to meet the infrastructure needs of low- and middle-income countries - US President Joe Biden said the USA would mobilise USD200 billion in public and private capital over the next five years for the partnership which collectively aims to mobilise nearly USD600 billion from the G7 by 2027. The FEED study is one of the partnership's flagship projects.

Romanian company Nuclearelectrica and NuScale will cooperate with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) on a series of engineering and design activities and studies, as well further technical analyses of the Doicești site, a former thermal power plant site which has been identified as a potential location for the SMR plant. The study is expected to take 8 months and cost USD28 million in total, and with contributions from Nuclearelectrica and NuScale. It will provide Romania with site-specific data such as cost, construction, schedule, and licensing details, necessary for the deployment of a NuScale VOYGR-6 SMR nuclear power plant. It will also identify potential Romanian services, manufacturing and assembly suppliers.

According to Nuclearelectrica, the SMR plant will generate 193 permanent jobs, plus many more in construction and production, and will help Romania to avoid the generation of 4 million tons of CO2 per year.

"Like in the case of the Cernavoda Nuclear [power plant], the first small modular reactors power plant will generate, in the area where it will be built, clean energy and strong economic growth for the local community by creating thousands of jobs, investments in infrastructure, growth of the chain of local suppliers, tax funds to the local budget and it will contribute to forming a new generation of specialists through investment in high-quality education," Nuclearelectrica CEO Cosmin Ghiţă said.

The commitment to the FEED study follows a pledge made by US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the 2021 UN Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow (COP26), where they announced their intent to deploy an SMR in Romania in partnership with NuScale.

"Nuclear energy, including small modular reactors, represents a critical tool in the fight against climate change, and can also enhance energy security and boost economic prosperity," Kerry said in reaction to the latest announcement. "This is a strong step forward in support of Romania's desire to deploy innovative, safe, and zero-emissions nuclear energy in partnership with the United States."

Enoh Ebong, director of the US TDA, said the FEED study would build on the agency's existing commitments to deploy cutting-edge US SMR solutions to the region, including grant funding for a study that helped Romania identify and assess several locations where existing coal-fired power plants could be replaced with SMR plants. "Our engagement is having the intended result of creating new business opportunities for US industry in an important market and advancing energy security across the region," he said.

The VOYGR nuclear power plant is based on the NuScale Power Module, a pressurised water reactor with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single unit, generating 77 MWe, which is the first SMR design to receive approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NuScale offers VOYGR plants in 12, four and six-module configurations. Portland, Oregon-based NuScale recently announced a strategic shift from product development to product delivery as commercialisation of its VOYGR plants approaches.

"When future generations look back at this time, they will see that we came together to ensure that we are accelerating technology that can fight climate change and provide energy security," NuScale President CEO John Hopkins said. "NuScale's partnership with Romania's Nuclearelectrica to deploy our VOYGR-6 SMR power plant will create jobs and energy independence while ensuring a better tomorrow, and we thank the US government for its crucial support for this project."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News