The first simulator for the control room of a NuScale VOYGR small modular reactor (SMR) power plant in Europe has opened at the University Politehnica of Bucharest in Romania. The simulator is the fifth in total, but the first outside the USA.

The opening of the NuScale VOGYR power plant simulator at the University Politehnica of Bucharest (Image: Nuclearelectrica)

The NuScale Energy Exploration Centre (E2 Centre) at the university's Faculty of Energy Engineering offers users a hands-on opportunity to apply nuclear science and engineering principles through simulated, real-world nuclear power plant operation scenarios. The E2 Centre employs state-of-the-art computer modeling to simulate a NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant control room.

The E2 Centre was funded by the US Department of State under the Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) programme. FIRST supports partner countries in advancing their nuclear energy programmes to meet their clean energy goals under the highest international standards for nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation. It builds on the intergovernmental agreement between the USA and Romania for cooperation on Romania's nuclear energy programme signed in December 2020.

"As the first international E2 Centre, this workforce development tool will enable Romania to develop the next generation of advanced nuclear experts, technologists, and operators and become a hub for deploying SMRs in Europe," NuScale Power said. "Romania has the potential to be one of the first deployments of an SMR in Europe and to become a catalyst for SMRs in the region by serving as a base for supporting operations of this new technology in other countries, as well as the production and assembly of plant components."

The first E2 Centre opened at Oregon State University in November 2020, followed by a second at the University of Idaho at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies in August 2021. The third centre is located at Texas A&M's Engineering Experiment Station and opened in November 2021. The fourth one opened in October 2022 in Pocatello, Idaho, in collaboration with Idaho State University.

In 2021, NuScale Power and state-owned nuclear power corporation Nuclearelectrica signed a teaming agreement to deploy a 462 MWe NuScale VOYGR-6 power plant in Romania by the end of the decade. In June last year, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to begin conducting engineering studies, technical reviews, and licensing and permitting activities for the project.

A front-end engineering and design contract was signed in late December by NuScale and RoPower - a joint venture of Nova Power & Gas and Nuclearelectrica - for the site of a former coal plant at Doicești, Romania, the preferred location for the deployment of the VOYGR-6 power plant.

Key government officials attended the opening of the E2 Centre on 15 May, including US Ambassador to Romania Kathleen Kavalec, Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca and Romanian Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu.

"Nuclearelectrica has strong assets, which qualifies us to be the first country after the US to deploy a NuScale SMR," said Nuclearelectrica CEO Cosmin Ghita. "The first E2 Centre launched in Romania is only the beginning of this new era in technology, human resources, safe, affordable clean energy, with multiple benefits for communities and industries, to which we are happy to contribute."

"The SMR project at Doicești, which this E2 Centre supports, will showcase Romanian leadership in energy innovation, accelerate the clean energy transition, create thousands of jobs in Romania and the US, and strengthen European energy security while upholding the highest standards for nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation," said Ann Ganzer, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.

According to Nuclearelectrica, it is estimated that the NuScale VOYGR-6 power plant will generate about 200 permanent jobs, 1,500 jobs in construction, 2,300 jobs in production and will help Romania to avoid the emission of 4 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

The NuScale Power Module on which the VOYGR nuclear power plants are based is a pressurised water reactor with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single 77 MWe unit. It is the first SMR design to receive approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company offers a 12-module VOYGR-12 power plant is capable of generating 924 MWe as well as the four-module VOYGR-4 (308 MWe) and six-module VOYGR-6 (462 MWe) plants and other configurations based on customer needs.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Tuesday, 16 May 2023
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