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Nuclear Energy in Romania (30.03.2023)

• Romania operates two reactors, with two more units expected to be completed by 2031.

• In addition, Romania plans to build a small modular reactor (SMR) of the US company NuScale. Both projects are financially supported by Washington.

Status quo of electricity generation

In the Romanian Cernavoda, two heavy water reactors of the CANDU-6 type have been in operation since 1996 and 2007, respectively. When construction began in the early 1980s, five units had originally been planned, but their construction was partially suspended.

Energy Mix 2020
Strommix Rumänien

The two units in operation today have an electrical output of about 700 MW each and thus contributed about 20% to Romania's electricity generation in 2020, which is about 56 TWh. The two NPPs are operated by the state-owned Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica.

Political and legal framework conditions

In October 2021, the Romanian government adopted the Integrated National Action Plan for Energy and Climate Change. In order to achieve the EU's climate targets, nuclear energy is to play a more prominent role in the future alongside renewables. Accordingly, the document confirms plans for the construction of two new CANDU units in Cernavoda by 2031. The plan also provides for the refurbishment of the existing units 1 and 2 at the site so that both can be operated for another 30 years. On 8 August 2023, Nuclearelectrica signed a two-year contract with the Canadian company Candu Energy to carry out necessary preliminary work for the planned lifetime extension of Unit 1.

Current plans and projects

NPPs in Romania
KKW in Rumänien

Large NPPs. The USA will finance about one-third of the construction project of the two reactors planned at Cernavoda. A $50 million loan from the US Export-Import Bank will be used for preparatory work.

Another $3 billion loan will be provided by the Washington-based Export Credit Agency for the actual construction, which is expected to take place between 2025 and 2030. The Romanian government adopted a bill approving a support agreement with Nuclearelectrica on 15 March 2023. According to the state-owned operating company, this will allow the next phase of the project to be initiated, which is expected to last about 30 months and includes the final preparations for the subsequent construction phase. Commissioning of the units is planned for 2030 and 2031, respectively.

SMRs. In Romania, the IAEA carried out a Site and External Events Design (SEED) review mission for the first time in September 2022 for the site selection for an SMR. The site selection procedure has been assessed, taking into account site-specific factors (e.g. possible external hazards). This IAEA mission is to be seen against the background that Nuclearelectrica wants to realise an SMR of the US company NuScale at the Doicești site. An initial memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Nuclearelectrica and NuScale had already been signed in 2019; the US wants to support the construction with $14 million.

Research reactors

A 14 MW Triga research reactor is operated at the Pitesti site, and another Russian-designed research reactor in Bucharest is currently being decommissioned. In addition, Romania is involved in the development of the Advanced Lead Fast Reactor European Demonstrator (ALFRED), a 125 MWe SMR to be built in Romania. Developed with funding from the EU research programme, the lead-cooled reactor will be equipped with passive safety systems and operated with mixed oxide fuel (MOX) with a plutonium content of about 17% at about 550°C. ALFRED is intended to be the precursor to an industrial demonstration unit.