Korean power company secures major nuclear deal in Romania

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has announced an agreement with Nuclearelectrica (SNN), Romania’s state-run nuclear power company.

View of the second reactor at the Cernavoda nuclear plant in Romani View of the second reactor at the Cernavoda nuclear plant in Romania. Photo: Reuters/BCWY

A report in the Korea JoongAng Daily said the deal, valued at €195 million, marks Korea’s largest-ever contract for a single nuclear facility.

The scope of work includes the construction of a tritium removal facility for the Cernavoda nuclear power plant located 170km east of Bucharest in Romania.

HNP had submitted its bid for the project in October last year, and the signing ceremony took place in central Seoul, with high-ranking officials from both countries in attendance.

The tritium removal facility will be responsible for extracting and storing tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, from heavy-water moderator water used in nuclear reactors.

State-of-the-art facility

Currently, there are only two such facilities worldwide, located at the Wolsong Nuclear Power Plant in Korea and the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Canada.

Construction work is scheduled to start in July and is expected to conclude by August 2027. The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy estimates that the Cernavoda project will generate orders worth approximately €70 million for local nuclear part suppliers, bolstering the domestic industry.

In an interview after the signing ceremony, KHNP CEO Whang Joo-ho said, “Although the latest deal may not be that big in terms of size, a nuclear equipment export is very high-value-added, and therefore I believe that it will be of practical help for Korean suppliers.

“In order to secure a stable supply of equipment, we will hold a briefing session for these companies, and place orders by the first half of next year.”

The agreement represents the second successful nuclear facility export deal for Korea under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, following the El-Dabaa project in Egypt.

Korea’s U-turn on nuclear

The new government has been actively promoting the Korean nuclear sector and aims to export ten nuclear power plants by 2030, a departure from the previous administration’s phase-out policy.

At the same time, Romania’s SNN has been actively seeking collaborations in the nuclear sector. The company recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Samsung C&T, a local construction company, to deploy NuScale Power’s small modular reactors in Romania.

Furthermore, Romania plans to enhance one of its two nuclear reactor units at the Cernavoda plant through a 2.5-trillion-won (€1.74 billion) project in 2024.

The successful implementation of the tritium removal facility deal positions Korea favourably for the upcoming bid on the reactor improvement project.

Korea’s industry minister Lee said, “Starting with the latest project to build the tritium removal facility, I hope that the two countries will be able to extend the collaboration into the upcoming facility improvement project aimed at prolonging the lifespan of the reactors at the Cernavoda plant.”


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