Romania is inching closer to finalising a development deal for two new reactors at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant (NPP).
At a general meeting on April 10, shareholders of state nuclear operator Nuclearelectrica approved a preliminary investment agreement for the expansion with China General Nuclear Power (CGNP). Nuclearelectrica’s board of directors have also been granted the authority to sign this contract with CGNP.
Under the investment deal, the two companies will form a JV to implement the project, with CGNP taking a 51% stake in the venture and Nuclearelectrica assuming 49%.
The Cernavoda NPP is equipped with two Canadian Candu-6 reactors, each with a 650-MW capacity. Bucharest wants to install two more units at the site in southeast Romania, but the expansion project has dragged on for years.
Romania has been in talks with CGNP since 2011, and selected the company, one of two reactor developers in China, as a lead investor in 2014. Negotiations have continued since then, with a key sticking point being price guarantees for future power from the plant. The project is valued at US$7.7 billion.
Nuclearelectrica has not said when it expects to sign the preliminary investment deal with CGNP. But once signed, the pair will be required to establish a JV within 60 working days.
The Cernavoda NPP currently supplies 15-20% of Romania’s energy needs. Expanding the plant will help the country wean itself from coal-fired power, which has grown increasingly costly as a result of Brussels’ carbon emissions trading system and the need to upgrade plants to comply with stricter EU pollution rules.
Coal and gas account for approximately 40% of Romania’s generation mix. The country sources a further 15-20% of its energy from hydroelectric dams, and 10-15% from wind and solar installations.
The Romanian energy ministry is Nuclearelectrica’s main shareholder with an 80% stake, while state investment fund Fondul Proprietatea has 20%.