Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry at Politechnica University

As prepared for delivery

Good morning. I’d first like to thank Mihnea Costoiu and Politehnica University for hosting this event. I am very pleased to be here with you all today.

I just came from a short visit to the recently launched NuScale Energy Exploration Center, which is supported by FIRST– a U.S. government capacity building program advancing the deployment of new nuclear energy.

The center replicates the control room of NuScale’s VOYGR small modular reactor, or SMR. This simulator is the very first of its kind outside of the United States and it’s right here at Politehnica University. It will play a vital role in Romania’s clean energy transition, helping to educate the next generation of engineers on how to safely operate new nuclear energy, and establishing Romania as a nuclear education and training hub for the region.

As many of you already know, Romania is in the process of converting a former coal plant at Doicesti into a clean energy hub—a project I joined President Iohannis in announcing at COP26 in Glasgow.

It represents a necessary and just transition that will involve coal workers and their communities. It will include new solar plus the site of Europe’s first SMR, building on Romania’s over a quarter-century of experience safely operating nuclear power plants.

More recently, in April of this year, the United States, along with international partners Japan, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates, pledged enhanced support for this effort. In particular, I want to highlight the support of the U.S. Development Finance Corporation and the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Drawing on the leadership and example set by Romania, the United States launched a new program called Project Phoenix at COP27 in Egypt last year. Project Phoenix will provide crucial funding to help prepare additional projects across Europe that accelerate the transition of coal-fired plants to SMRs, utilizing existing infrastructure and retaining local jobs.

Today, it is my pleasure to announce the first three awardees of Project Phoenix—Czechia, Poland, and Slovakia—who will receive financial and technical support for coal-to-SMR feasibility studies in their countries.

These countries are pioneers, but they are not alone. In the U.S. we are deploying the same NuScale VOYGR reactors. In Wyoming, we are undergoing our very own coal-to-SMR conversion using another equally promising advanced nuclear reactor under development by TerraPower.We are all in this together, unlocking the next generation of clean base-load power.

We need to use every tool possible to accelerate the clean energy transition and limit warming to 1.5 degrees C. That includes nuclear power.

Not only does nuclear provide firm baseload power to the grid, enabling the integration of other clean energy sources like wind and solar, it can also generate high temperature heat to support hard-to-abate industrial processes such as steel and cement. New nuclear designs also offer more flexible operation, allowing nuclear to be a complement to higher shares of renewable energy on the grid.

The United States is committed to supporting the use of innovative clean energy technologies that reduce global emissions and provide energy security and independence to our partners around the world.

This work will continue in November, where the official Project Phoenix launch event—graciously co-hosted by Slovakia—will be held in Bratislava.

Because more than anything, this crucial moment calls for innovation—and that’s we’re seeing here in action today.

With that, I will turn it over to Romanian Energy Minister Sebastian Burduja.