U.S.-Romania Cooperation on Small Modular Reactors (Fact Sheet)

Main Points

  • This announcement represents a significant breakthrough for bringing emerging nuclear technologies to bear on the climate crisis. It showcases first-of-a-kind U.S. technology, creates thousands of jobs, strengthens European energy security, and addresses the climate crisis head-on.
  • This commitment by Romania allows for U.S. ingenuity on nuclear advancement to be brought to a critical part of Europe possibly two years prior than anywhere else in the world. Romania is now a leader and model for others in the region and its commitment to combatting climate change – while utilizing U.S. technology – underscores the strength of the U.S.-Romania bilateral partnership.
  • SMRs offer lower costs, scalability and flexibility, and the ability to complement other clean energy sources. They use very little land space, can be deployed to match the specific needs of a country’s power grid, and can scale-up quickly as demand dictates.
  • SMRs can play a critical role in decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors beyond power generation. For example, nuclear energy can be used for clean hydrogen production, industrial process heat, and desalinated water to meet decarbonization goals, air quality standards, and clean water needs.
  • SMRs are ideally suited to replacing coal plants. SMRs retain the coal power plant workforce, as many positions are directly transferable from coal to nuclear, require minimal cross-training, and have greater economic impact.
  • Financing the development of clean technology, including nuclear power, will determine our success in decarbonization. To that end, we hope that the European Union will respond to the overwhelming demand of its member states to include nuclear energy in its sustainable finance taxonomy.
  • As the precipitous increase in European energy prices has shown, energy security is critical to national security. Climate change, in part, has driven this current energy crisis. Current high energy prices highlight the need to reduce demand for fossil fuels, develop and deploy diverse carbon-free capacity, and accelerate the clean energy transition.
  • This announcement builds upon the U.S.-Romania Intergovernmental Agreement for cooperation on Romania’s nuclear power program (IGA) that was signed in December 2020, cementing a multi-decade relationship on civil nuclear advancement.

Details

Energy innovation

  • Dozens of SMRs are being developed worldwide, but none have been licensed or built yet. NuScale is currently the only SMR to receive U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission design certification.
  • Through this initiative, the first NuScale power module is expected be built by 2027 and the full 6-module plant is expected to be complete by 2028. This is two years before it is scheduled to be deployed in the United States.

Jobs

  • Each full NuScale plant would employ about 270 people full-time in high paying quality jobs. It could also facilitate the retention of the coal power plant workforce, as many positions are directly transferable from coal to nuclear, require minimal cross-training, and have greater economic impact.
  • The domestic supply chain for manufacturing three full NuScale per year could generate about 13,500 jobs.

SMR cost

  • We understand from NuScale that the cost is about $3.5 billion per gigawatt of energy.
  • The U.S. government has invested over $450 million in the development and licensing of NuScale.

U.S. Support to Romania for Reactor

  • Romania is set to receive over $2 million in U.S. technical assistance to advance its goals to become an SMR educational and training hub in the region. The assistance covers cooperation on establishing an SMR simulator at one of its premier universities and support for an SMR siting study, a reverse trade mission, and an SMR regulations workshop series.
  • Our Export Import Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Romania agreeing to explore and identify options to potentially use EXIM financing in a total aggregate amount of up to $7 billion.
  • Carbon Reduction

    • Nuclear energy is the largest source of emissions-free energy in the United States, providing nearly 55 percent of total carbon-free electricity generation. After hydropower, it is the second-largest source globally at nearly 30 percent. Small modular reactors are equally emissions free and should open new markets to nuclear energy.

    Waste

    • On March 29th, 2021, the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) released the results of its comprehensive review, concluding that nuclear energy does no more harm to human health or the environment than any other power-producing technology considered to be sustainable.

    Safety

    • The United States can always assure its partners that U.S. technologies are designed, developed, built, and used under the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation. These standards make international collaboration possible without raising the risks related to security or proliferation.