The Romanian government has adopted an integrated energy plan that calls for two new CANDU reactors at Cernavoda by 2031 and the refurbishment of an existing unit there in 2037. It would double the country's nuclear power supply in a decade.

Virgil Popescu (Image: Ministry of Energy)

Romanian Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu said the Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate Change is a "comprehensive document, which has been developed and adapted to the latest realities." It was adopted at a government meeting yesterday, the Ministry of Energy announced.

The plan is designed to address the five main aspects of collective energy policy for countries in the European Union: energy security, decarbonisation, energy efficiency, the internal energy market, and research, innovation and competitiveness. Drafts of the document have been commented on by professionals and civil society groups, as well as by the European Commission. The final version is now to be logged with the EU.

Nuclear energy already plays a major strategic role in Romanian power supply, with two CANDU reactors at the Cernavoda power plant supplying about 19% of electricity, and under this plan it would double in size. Construction of Cernavoda started in 1983 under the regime of former President Nicolae CeauČ™escu and the two units were completed in 1996 and 2007. Two more CANDUs were always planned for the site and it is Romania's firm policy to complete them.

The plan approved yesterday foresees these new units - Cernavoda 3 and 4 - starting up in 2030 and 2031, respectively, with capacities of 675 MWe each. Romania has already signed a range of agreements towards this project with international partners, including the USA, France and Canada.

Romania's plan proposes to support low-carbon power systems, such as nuclear and renewables as well as storage, through a contract for difference mechanism, "thus ensuring the diversification of energy sources and the flexibility of the national system," it said, noting that this would require additional legislation. The plan includes some 6.9 GW of renewable capacity by 2030.

Refurbishment of Cernavoda 1 and 2 is also part of the plan. Unit 1 could undergo the procedure in around 2027-8 and unit 2 after 2037, granting each unit an extra 30 years of operation. This is "an effective solution" the plan said, given service life extension "is done at costs around 40% of new equivalent capacity." By doing this the country can "ensure the supply of electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, with minimal impact on the environment, at competitive costs, thus contributing sustainably to the decarbonisation of the energy sector and achieving Romania's energy and environment targets for 2030, in line with the objectives assumed at European and even global level (Paris Agreement)", the plan states.

Beyond Romania's conventional nuclear capacity, the plan also includes ongoing support for research and development of advanced reactors, specifically its ALFRED lead-cooled fast reactor design. This is funded by the European Union through the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform and the European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative.

The plan said that a consortium of engineering and scientific organisations set up to build ALFRED estimates technology development, design, engineering and construction could be completed before 2030. The reactor would have capacity of 300 MWt and come at an estimated cost of EUR1.0-1.4 billion (USD1.2-1.6 billion).

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 06 October 2021
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