The administration of US President Joe Biden is to provide 50% of the funding for a front-end engineering design (FEED) study for the deployment of a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR), designed by US company NuScale, in Romania. The US contribution will be disbursed through the US Trade and Development Agency, the amount involved being $14-million. The other $14-million needed to fund the FEED will be provided by NuScale and by its Romanian partner company, Nuclearelectrica.
The two companies plan to erect a NuScale VOYGR-6 SMR nuclear power plant (NPP) on the site of a former thermal power plant at Doicești in Romania. The FEED study will include various engineering and design studies and activities. It will also include additional technical analyses of the site at Doicești.
The intent to deploy a NuScale SMR in Romania was actually announced at last year’s COP26 Climate Conference. It was made in a joint declaration by the US Special Presidential Climate Envoy, former Senator John Kerry, and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. The funding is being provided from the US contribution to the G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, announced at the current Summit of the Group of Seven leading industrialised democracies (which started on Monday and finishes on Wednesday).
“Nuclear energy, including [SMRs], represents a critical tool in the fight against climate change, and can also enhance energy security and boost economic prosperity,” highlighted Kerry, responding to the announcement of the US funding for the FEED study. “This is a strong step forward in support of Romania’s desire to deploy innovative, safe, and zero-emissions nuclear energy in partnership with the United States.”
The VOYGR NPP is centred on NuScale’s Power Module, which is a single unit which contains a small pressurised water reactor plus all the heat exchanger and steam generator components. Each power module has a generating capacity of 77 MWe. The Power Module is the first SMR design to be approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. VOYGR NPPs are currently offered by NuScale in four-module, six-module and 12-module configurations.
Nuclearelectrica stated that building a VOYGR-6 NPP would create 193 permanent jobs, plus those jobs created during the construction phase. But there would be many more jobs created indirectly, including those made possible by the provision of clean energy from the NPP.
“When future generations look back at this time, they will see that we came together to ensure that we are accelerating technology that can fight climate change and provide energy security,” affirmed NuScale president and CEO John Hopkins. “NuScale’s partnership with Romania’s Nuclearelectrica to deploy our VOYGR-6 SMR power plant will create jobs and energy independence while ensuring a better tomorrow, and we thank the US government for its crucial support for this project.”