Nuclearelectrica clear to start Cernavoda 1 upgrade

03 October 2017

Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica SA (SNN) has received shareholder approval to start upgrading unit 1 of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, a 650 MWe Candu 6 reactor on which construction started in 1982. An extraordinary general meeting of the Romanian company's shareholders, of which the main one is the Romanian Ministry of Energy, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Business Environment, approved the plan on 28 September.

Cernavoda unit 1 - 460 (Nuclearelectrica)
Cernavoda unit 1 (Image: Nuclearelectrica)

Located in Constanta County, Romania, the Cernavoda plant was initially planned as the site for five Candu 6 reactors. Units 1 and 2 started operations in 1996 and 2007, respectively. Phase I of the refurbishment project will include "activities necessary to ensure the operation of unit 1 for a period of 30 years, meaning the extension of the operating hours at nominal power in addition to the 210,000 hours initially estimated by the design", Nuclearelectrica said.

The company's CEO, Cosmin Ghita, added: "Based on studies and the international experience of other Candu 6 type nuclear power plants, and also on the inspections carried out by SNN and its results aimed at optimising the production of Cernavoda NPP unit 1, with observation of the same nuclear safety standards, the extension of the operating period beyond the initial estimated duration by design certifies first and foremost the quality of operations thus far and offers the premise for obtaining clear advantages for the project, the company and the contribution of a sustainable, reliable energy source in the national power system."

The "organisational and logistical modification activities" for the project will start early next year will be based on the completion of supporting documentation necessary for the preparation of a feasibility study, the company said.

The study, to be submitted for shareholder approval in 2021, will incorporate all the results of technical studies and safety analyses, "in such a manner as to allow the clear definition of the project, from the technical and financial point of view," it said. Most of these studies and technical and safety analyses can only be performed, objectively, by specialised engineering companies, it added. A series of studies is under way, to collate data regarding certain equipment, structures, systems and components that is only possible during planned outages at the unit.

Ghita said: "The approval by the shareholders of the first phase of the refurbishment project of unit 1 signifies the assurance of the continuation of the project for SNN, without delays, with the observation of the timeline for each stage and sub-stage."

He added: "This obviously signifies a major gain for SNN in terms of maintaining the energy production of unit 1 until 30 years of initial operation, the opportunity to accumulate additional funds necessary for the financing of the project, as well as for the national energy system in terms of the contribution to ensuring security and stability of supply."

The extension to 30 years of operation, based on the international experience and adapted to the unit's technical data, will determine that the refurbishment outage at the unit will take place during December 2026 and December 2028, the company said.

The refurbishment of unit 1 is the largest investment project of any energy company in Romania, but is less than half the cost of building a new Candu unit, Ghita noted.

Ghita was appointed to his role on 2 September for a provisional four months, following the completion by the company's previous CEO, Daniela Lulache, of his term in the position.

Romania and China signed a letter of intent in November 2013 during a visit to Bucharest by Chinese premier Li Keqiang. During his visit, the two countries signed numerous bilateral agreements, including an MOU on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Nuclearelectrica signed a memorandum of understanding with China General Nuclear Power (CGN) in November 2015 for the development, construction, operation and decommissioning of units 3 and 4 of the Cernavoda plant. The Romanian national nuclear company said a joint venture project company is to be established, with CGN owning at least 51% of the share capital. That company will oversee construction of the units, which will be 700 MWe Candu 6 reactors.

In January last year, the Romanian government said it had written to CGN expressing its support for the Cernavoda nuclear power plant project. CGN announced its receipt of the letter - which was presented by energy minister Victor Vlad Grigorescu and signed by prime minister Dacian Julien Cioloș. Units 3 and 4 will feature identical reactors of no less than 720 MWe each involving a total investment of about €7.2 billion ($7.8 billion), according to CGN.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News