Canadian – Chinese agreement for two nuclear reactors in Romania


Canadian group Candu Energy has signed last week in Vancouver a binding and exclusive cooperation agreement with China Nuclear Power Engineering Company (CNPEC) for the construction of CANDU Units 3 and 4 at the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant in Romania, according to
“Candu Energy looks forward to working with CNPEC to meet Romania’s growing nuclear energy requirements. This is an exciting opportunity to build on CANDU technology’s international track record for the highest levels of safety, reliability and efficiency,” said Preston Swafford, Candu Energy President and CEO. “Today’s (our note July 24) agreement deepens our strong ties with both the Romanian and Chinese nuclear industries, as CANDU reactors have operated in both countries for more than a decade.” This agreement follows a letter of intent signed by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), CNPEC’s parent company, and Romanian electricity company Nuclearelectrica (SNN), in November 2013, for investments in and the development of two additional nuclear units at the Cernavoda site.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has agreed to make investments amounting USD 9 bn in Cernavoda’s 3 and 4 reactors, according to Romanian officials, the Canadian press stressed.
Nuclearelectrica already operates two CANDU nuclear reactors, which generate 20 percent of Romania’s electricity. The first one came into service in 1996 and the second one became operational in 2007.
CANDU nuclear technology has an established presence in China, with two 700 megawatt CANDU reactors at Qinshan Phase III, located southwest of Shanghai. Completed in 2003, the Qinshan units are among the best performing nuclear units in China with lifetime capacity factors of over 91 per cent.
“This project stands to make a meaningful contribution to Canada’s economy and support highly-skilled jobs here at home. It demonstrates the tremendous export value of Canadian nuclear expertise,” added Swafford.
Work on the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant started during Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime. Initially it was projected to have six reactors, but two of them were abandoned. Analysts are skeptical about the economic viability of building reactors 3 and 4 as Romania’s power generating facilities exceed internal demand. However, the Romanian Government has it on its strategic investments list.
In 2008, European energy companies such as Enel, RWE, Cez, GDF Suez and Iberdrola, as well as steelmaker ArcelorMittal signed an initial Nuclearelectrica in financing this investment, but one by one they all backed out from the project in recent years. The Romanian Government then started negotiations with the Chinese, who showed interest for large project in Romania, both in the energy sector but in infrastructure as well.