Romania mulls building Europe’s first small modular nuclear reactor

A view of the construction site of the future SMR plant in Doicesti, Romania, March 18, 2024. A view of the construction site of the future SMR plant in Doicesti, Romania, March 18, 2024. (Image: REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu)

Romania is set to make a preliminary investment decision next year on whether to build what could become Europe’s first small modular nuclear reactor (SMR).

The US Ambassador to Romania, Kathleen Ann Kavalec, said that a partnership between Romania’s state-owned nuclear power company Nuclearelectrica and US firm NuScale Power could benefit from US financial support worth US$4 billion.

The two companies signed an agreement to work together on an SMR project back in 2021. The project would have six reactors, with a total capacity of 460 MW. A companion solar park worth 80 MW has already been installed on site.

NuScale’s SMR technology has already been certified by the US nuclear power regulator, the first such approval in the country. However, NuScale’s project to build its first SMR in the US, at the Carbon Free Power Project in Idaho, faltered last year owing to a lack of appetite from investors.

Nonetheless, the European Commission said last month that it aims to connect its first SMR reactors by 2030 and use them to meet its climate objectives.

“We have the chance of being the first or among the first,” Romania’s Energy Minister Sebastian Burduja said on Monday after touring the proposed site for the new plant in the central Romanian town of Doicesti with company and U.S. officials, including US Ambassador Kavalec.

“That is because we have...selected the technology with the most advanced degree of maturity.”

Burduja said the Romanian project was much more commercially viable and could be up to a third cheaper than the Carbon Free Power Project.

“This visionary project has the support of the highest levels of the United States government, both politically and financially,” Kavalec said.

“The US EXIM Bank and the US International Development Finance Corporation have committed financing to ensure the success of this SMR project in Doicesti to the amount of $3 billion and $1 billion, respectively.”

Nuclearelectrica’s chief executive Cosmin Ghita said prospective investors were also interested in providing equity for the project.


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