Romanian government adopts draft law on Cernavoda 3 and 4

21 December 2022

The draft law submitted to Romania's parliament covers a state support agreement with Nuclearelectrica relating to the estimated EUR7 billion (USD7.4 billion) project to complete two units at Cernavoda, where the country's existing two reactors are located.

Cernavodă currently has two completed units (Image: Nuclearelectrica)

Energy Minister Virgil Popescu said: "It is a very important law, which I hope will be adopted as quickly as possible by my colleagues in the parliament, in order to move forward with the project of the new units in Cernavoda. Yes, Romania will become energy independent and, at the same time, we will ensure our energy security and the achievement of decarbonisation targets with the help of nuclear energy. Because decarbonisation can't be done without nuclear energy."

The energy ministry says that the aim is to get Cernavoda 3 in operation at the end of 2030 and Cernavoda 4 the following year. It says "the contribution of nuclear energy in the energy system will be doubled from approximately 20% to 36%" with the contribution of the 700MW CANDU 6 units.

The ministry said the commitments being given included the government taking "the necessary steps to finance the construction of the two reactors, including but not limited to the granting of State Guarantees to the Project's financiers".

It added that it would be responsible for the implementation of the "Contracts for Difference" support mechanism "and, at the same time, being responsible for the operationalisation of the Modernisation Fund, supports the inclusion of nuclear energy in key investment programmes and provides the necessary support for the use of the Modernisation Fund in order to develop, build and put into operation the Cernavoda 3 and 4 project".

The ministry added that the Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Agency was responsible for the completion "of the Final Repository for Low and Active Environmental Waste" and "the completion and operationalisation, until 2050, of the geological repository for highly radioactive waste".

Other commitments by the government are to improve "navigation conditions on the Danube between Calarasi and Braila" to ensure sufficient cooling water for the four unit plant, as well as ensuring the necessary electricity transmission lines are in place. 

The energy ministry estimates that 19,000 jobs in the industry will be created, with each unit saving 5 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Cernavoda is the only nuclear power plant in Romania and consists of two 650 MWe pressurised heavy-water reactors. Unit 1 went into commercial operation in 1996 and unit 2 in 2007. Operator Nuclearelectrica plans to extend the operating life of unit 1 to 60 years. Most of the work on units 3 and 4 - like units 1 and 2, CANDU-6 reactors - was done in the 1980s prior to the fall of the government of Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989.

In October, Popescu said Canada and the USA were both offering to help with the financing of the construction of Cernavoda 3 and 4. Romania also has plans for small modular reactors (SMRs), with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Nuclearelectrica, US firm NuScale and E-INFRA relating to the proposed site at Doicești, the location selected for the country's first SMR.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News