US President Joe Biden made the announcement at this weekend’s G7 leaders’ summit in Schloss Elmau, Germany, where he presented US initiatives to form part of a newly set up Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII).
The PGII aims to reduce global infrastructure gaps, strengthen economies and supply chains and will mobilise $600bn for investment by 2027, about a third of which will be provided by the US.
The total cost of the SMR study for Romania, which is to take eight months, is expected to be $28m, with a half matched by Romania’s state-owned nuclear company Nuclearelectrica and US-based small modular reactor developer NuScale.
The project is expected to provide Romania with site data, cost estimates, construction schedule and licensing details, all necessary for the commissioning of the NuScale Voygr-6 SMR nuclear power plant.
The decision is in line with a pledge made by special presidential envoy on climate John Kerry and Romanian president Klaus Iohannis at the 2021 United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow (COP26), where they announced their intention to launch a SMR plant in Romania in partnership with US company NuScale.
“This front-end engineering and design study would build upon the US Trade and Development Agency’s (USTDA) existing commitments to deploy cutting-edge US SMR solutions to the region, including grant funding for a study that helped Romania identify and assess several locations where existing coal-fired power plants could be replaced with SMR plants,” said Enoh Ebong, director of the USTDA.
Ms Ebong said last month the agency was looking forward to continue supporting Romania with its siting plans and project feasibility study.
The Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is expecting that about 300 new small modular reactors (SMRs) could be deployed in the US by 2050, adding roughly 90 GW of new nuclear capacity to the national grid, according to the institute’s chief executive Maria Korsnick.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) loan programmes office is working on several applications for nuclear projects in the US while the US Export-Import Bank is working to mobilise funding for overseas customers. Over the last couple of years, companies in Canada, Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic have shown interest in SMR designs being developed in the US, but earmarked for pilot deployment in the late 2020s.
In May, NuScale signed a memorandum of understanding with Romania’s state nuclear power corporation Nuclearelectrica to conduct engineering studies, technical reviews, and licensing activities at a site in Doicesti, south-central Romania that is the preferred location for the deployment of what could be the first SMR in Europe.
The announcement is the latest step in a partnership to bring advanced nuclear technology to Romania and “a key advancement” of an agreement signed last year under which NuScale and Nuclearelectrica – operator of Romania’s only nuclear station at Cernavodă – are taking steps towards deploying a NuScale Voygr-6, six-module, 462 MW power plant in Romania.
NuScale said the SMR plant could be deployed in Romania as early as 2027-2028.