Romania to cut its stake in new Cernavoda units

27 July 2010

The Romanian government plans to cut its stake in a project to construct two new reactors at Cernavoda. Meanwhile, Romania has asked Areva to participate in building the country's second plant in Transylvania. 


In November 2008, representatives from the seven companies investing in the construction of units 3 and 4 at Romania's Cernavoda nuclear power plant signed an agreement specifying what share in the project they will each hold.


Cernavoda 1-4 (Image: AECL) 
How Cernavoda would look with four units (Image: AECL) 


The partners agreed to establish a project company, EnergoNuclear SA, to construct, commission and operate the two new units. Under the agreement, the share held by each investor in the project company had been agreed, and, correspondingly, what proportion of financing and share of the power generated each will take.


Romania's state-owned Nuclearelectrica SA holds a 51% stake in EnergoNuclear, while Czech utility CEZ, France's GDF-Suez, Italy's Enel and Germany's RWE Power each hold a 9.15% stake. In addition, Spain's Iberdrola and global steel producer ArcelorMittal each hold a 6.2% stake in the project company. In April 2009, construction costs were expected to be about €4 billion ($5.2 billion), but by September it was evident that SNN could not raise its share of the funds.


Romania's energy minister, Adriean Videanu, has now said that the government will reduce its stake in EnergoNuclear. In an interview published on the ministry's website Videanu said: "The Romanian state will never have sufficient resources to finance 51% of the project. We therefore plan to renegotiate the holdings."


He noted that the current agreement with the investors is valid until 25 September. Videanu said that the agreement may be extended to other investors.


The Cernavoda plant was originally intended to host five Canadian Candu pressurized heavy water reactors of 633 MWe each. Construction on units 2-5 was halted in 1991 in order to concentrate on unit 1, which entered commercial operation at the end of 1996. It now provides 10% of the country's electricity. The government decided to resume work on unit 2 in 2000. After some upgrades during completion, unit 2 is rated at 655 MWe and began commercial operation in October 2007.


Cernavoda 3 and 4, both 720 MWe Candu reactors, will be a similar design to Cernavoda unit 2. The new units are scheduled to start up in 2016 and 2017, respectively.


In February 2010, EnergoNuclear signed an agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) to assess the viability of the project and define what is required to complete and commission units 3 & 4.


Second plant 


Meanwhile, in an interview published in Romania's Adevarul newspaper, Videanu said that during a visit to Paris in early June he invited Areva to participate in the construction of a second nuclear power plant in Romania.


The second plant is planned for Transylvania in northwest Romania and is expected to be completed between 2020 and 2030. The exact location of the plant has yet to be identified.


Videanu said: "We need the expertise of French specialists concerning the location study. In addition to the evaluation that we conducted ourselves, we need to validate these studies in relation to French partners and then try to establish a project company that will form the investment pool for the second nuclear power plant."


He declined to say whether Areva would actually build the second plant.


Researched and written 

by World Nuclear News