Romanian reactor contract for AECL

09 February 2010

Engineering consultation work is to be carried out by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) towards the completion of two units at Romania's Cernavoda nuclear power plant. 

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

The contract will see AECL provide consulting services in the nuclear safety and engineering fields to define the requirements for the completion of the two Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactor units at Cernavoda. Specifically, the Canadian company will undertake activities such as design, authorisation and assessment of the existing infrastructure and safety conditions at Cernavoda 3 and 4. The deal was made by AECL and EnergoNuclear, a consortium of nuclear utilities and engineering firms managing the completion project.

The contract is good news for AECL, which the Canadian government is looking to 'restructure' with the company's Candu reactor unit likely to move out of government hands. AECL president and CEO Hugh MacDiarmid said the company was delighted with the EnergoNuclear connection. "Our Candu 6 reactor is the top performing reactor in the world... and we believe that this track record of high performance will continue with [Cernavoda] units 3 and 4," he said.

According to EnergoNuclear general manager Dan Ionescu, the contract is a "significant step towards the completion of units 3 and 4." Based on the experience of Cernavoda 1 and 2, Ionescu predicted that the new units would "substantially increase our nuclear energy capabilities, and provide significant new economic and employment opportunities in the region."

Romania's only nuclear power station currently comprises two operating Candu units, but was initially planned as a five-unit plant. Construction began on all five units in the early 1980s but in 1991 work was suspended on all the other units to concentrate efforts on Cernavoda 1, which started up in 1996. Work resumed on unit 2 after a government decision in 2000 to complete the unit as the least-cost route to expand the country's generating capacity, and the unit started up in 2007. Together, the two units now supply 20% of Romania's electricity.

Following on from a feasibility study on various options for the completion of units 3 and 4, EnergoNuclear SA was formally established as a joint venture in April 2009 and tasked with the construction, commissioning and operation of the two new reactors. EnergoNuclear's seven member companies are Romanian state-owned Nuclearelectrica SA (51%); Czech utility CEZ, Belgium's Electrabel (part of GDF-Suez), Enel of Italy and Germany's RWE Power, holding 9.15% each; and Iberdrola of Spain and global steel producer ArcelorMittal, with 6.2% each.

The €4 billion ($5 billion) project to complete the two 720 MWe reactors is to be conducted in two stages and is expected to take about six years. The AECL contract is part of EnergoNuclear's 18-month pre-project phase which involves the development of technical and commercial specifications, calls for bids, engineering documentation, site works and evaluation of tenders for the general contractor. The units are planned to start up in 2016 and 2017.

Researched and written

by World Nuclear News