By Constantin Radut
The story of the completion of the two nuclear reactors 3 and 4 at Cernavoda begins many years ago.
The development of new nuclear units in Romania has been discussed since 2003. The feasibility study conducted by Deloitte & Touche and submitted to the Board of Directors of SNN (Nuclearelectrica) SA, in March 2006, identified the setting up of a Project Company made up of local and foreign investors as an optimal solution for the completion of the Cernavoda NPP’s Units 3 and 4.
The Romanian Government demonstrated their commitment to this project when, in a press release, on 14 September 2006, they announced the building of two new nuclear units in Romania.
Units 3 and 4 have been under preservation since 1992. Total completion ratio: Unit 3 is almost 15% completed while Unit 4 is 14% completed, which means, mainly, civil works performed to the Reactor Building, Turbine Building and Service Building.
After many delays and failures, in 2014 it was decided to start working with China General Nuclear Power Corporation.
On 22.08.2014, the General Meeting of Shareholders approved the Strategy for the continuation of the Project Cernavoda NPP Units 3 and 4 through the launch of a competitive selection procedure for a private investor in view of establishing a joint venture. The selection procedure was launched in 27.08.2014, and the qualification phase was completed on 09.09.2014 when China General Nuclear Power Corporation is declared as qualified investor. After the analysis of the Documentation of Intent (the expertise of the investor with similar projects, the financial capability, the degree of adherence of the Qualified Investor to the Memorandum for the implementation of the Project, proposed by SNN, as well as to the Strategy), CGN was declared a selected investor on 17.10.2014 by the signing of a Joint Letter on the Intention to complete the Project.
On 22.10.2015, the shareholders of SNN approved the Memorandum of Understanding for the development, construction, operation and decommissioning of Cernavoda NPP Units 3 and 4, which was signed between the parties on 09.11.2015. At present, SNN and CGN are in the negotiation process of the Investors Agreement and the Articles of Incorporation of the new project company.
In May 2019, the Dăncilă Government signed a memorandum for the takeover by China of reactors 3 and 4 from the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, a preliminary investment agreement with the Chinese general nuclear corporation CGN.
The document signed between Romania and China stipulates that within 60 working days a project company will be set up to build two new energy blocks, each with a capacity of 700 MW. It will be 51% owned by the Chinese, and the rest, 49%, will belong to the Romanian company Nuclearelectrica, which manages the plant.
At the same time, the US is fighting against Romania’s interests: China General Nuclear Power (CGN), the Chinese state giant partner of Nuclearelectrica in the project to build reactors 3 and 4 at Cernavoda, was placed by the US authorities on a “blacklist ”With companies believed to be acting“ against national security and US foreign policy interests ”.
The decision of the Washington authorities takes place about a week before the meeting at the White House between Donald Trump and Klaus Iohannis, scheduled incognito. Nuclear energy was on the agenda of talks between the two leaders. The Americans are strongly lobbying for the development in Romania of their own technology of modular reactors.
The United States will work with Romania to improve its investment climate and to help the country make better use of its vast natural gas resources, but also to support Romania’s objectives in the field of civilian nuclear energy, the White House said in a statement .
And so it happened.
Before Klaus Iohannis’ visit to Washington, Nuclearelectrica entered into a partnership with the American company NuScale Power, specialized in “small nuclear reactors”.
Nuclearelectrica has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NuScale Power in order to exchange technical and economic information on the innovative nuclear technology developed by NuScale.
„The purpose of this MoU is to evaluate the development, authorization and construction of small modular reactors (SMR), as a potential long-term solution for Romania. This agreement is a signal of Romania’s interest in innovative, new generation nuclear technologies, which in the future will complete and subsequently replace the current generations of nuclear reactors “, said, at that time, Nuclearelectrica, the operator of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant.
“NuScale looks forward to presenting safe, scalable and reliable nuclear technology and working with SNN to determine what role NuScale technology can play in Romania’s energy future,” said John Hopkins, President and CEO of NuScale.
“The Department of Energy applauds this important agreement to assess how small modular reactor technology could be used in Romania,” said US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.
For a year now, no news has appeared about the collaboration between Nuclearelectrica and the American company.
And it won’t even show up. The Americans have achieved their goal. They eliminated the Chinese from the Romanian nuclear energy market.
A typical case for the Donald Trump administration to impose its economic supremacy. A supremacy in which fewer and fewer people believe.
By Constantin Radut