Romania secures US funding to build six SMRs

21 March 2024

Romania, supported by US funding, is to build six small modular reactors (SMRs) in the locality of Doicesti, Dambovita, some 90 kilometres from Bucharest. The reactors can power 46,000 homes and could create 4,000 jobs, amounting to an investment of $6bn partly financed by the US. The reactors, designed by US NuScale, could be operational by the end of 2029.

According to Romanian Energy Minister Sebastian Burduja, the project will see Romania transformed into a leader in the nuclear field. “For too many years, we've been used to catching up, often breathlessly, behind others. It's time for us to write the future of the world,” he said. “Romania can be on the world map with the first nuclear power plant, the first small modular reactors.”

Burduja said discussions with American experts and officials had confirmed the safety of the technology noting that a similar plant was to be built in the US state of Idaho, but the project was cancelled due to high costs amounting to roughly $9.2bn whereas the plant in Romania will be cheaper.

“The Idaho project did not benefit from infrastructure, transformers, electrical lines, or river water. As such, it required more engineering improvements,” said Cosmin Ghita, CEO of Romania’s nuclear utility Nuclearelectrica (SNN).

The US Ambassador to Bucharest, Kathleen Kavalec, announced that the US EXIM Bank and the US International Development Finance Corporation had committed to financing to ensure the success of the project in the amount of $3bn and $1bn, respectively. “Their financial investment underscores our shared commitment to a sustainable energy future. We recognise that the path to progress lies in collaboration, and this project embodies that. Works are scheduled to last until 2030.

“I have just had the opportunity to tour the Doicesti Small Modular Reactor (SMR) site. The rapid progress here is a testament to Romania’s vision, guiding us toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy future,” she said in the press release. “As I have just seen, Romania is poised to become a regional clean energy hub. The Doicesti SMR project is at the forefront of this transformation.”

She continued: “Experience has shown that the American NuScale technology being used in the project is safe. As the sole existing commercial SMR technology approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it comes with assurances of the highest levels of safety and security. The United States is committed to deploying these types of cutting-edge solutions to combat the climate crisis and expand access to clean energy.”

She said the US Embassy team “collaborates daily with SNN, RoPower, NuScale, and Fluor – the driving forces behind Doicesti’s transformation, to move this project forward. Together, we can make Doicesti a shining star in the constellation of carbon-free energy generation”.

Image: US Ambassador to Bucharest Kathleen Kavalec at the Doicesti SMR site (courtesy of RoPower Nuclear)

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