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Wed Oct 6, 2021, 08:08 PM

Romania plans to double nuclear capacity.

Romanian energy policy will see nuclear double

The Romanian government has adopted an integrated energy plan that calls for two new CANDU reactors at Cernavoda by 2031 and the refurbishment of an existing unit there in 2037. It would double the country's nuclear power supply in a decade.

Romanian Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu said the Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate Change is a "comprehensive document, which has been developed and adapted to the latest realities." It was adopted at a government meeting yesterday, the Ministry of Energy announced.

The plan is designed to address the five main aspects of collective energy policy for countries in the European Union: energy security, decarbonisation, energy efficiency, the internal energy market, and research, innovation and competitiveness. Drafts of the document have been commented on by professionals and civil society groups, as well as by the European Commission. The final version is now to be logged with the EU.

Nuclear energy already plays a major strategic role in Romanian power supply, with two CANDU reactors at the Cernavoda power plant supplying about 19% of electricity, and under this plan it would double in size. Construction of Cernavoda started in 1983 under the regime of former President Nicolae Ceaușescu and the two units were completed in 1996 and 2007. Two more CANDUs were always planned for the site and it is Romania's firm policy to complete them.

The plan approved yesterday foresees these new units - Cernavoda 3 and 4 - starting up in 2030 and 2031, respectively, with capacities of 675 MWe each. Romania has already signed a range of agreements towards this project with international partners, including the USA, France and Canada...

...Refurbishment of Cernavoda 1 and 2 is also part of the plan. Unit 1 could undergo the procedure in around 2027-8 and unit 2 after 2037, granting each unit an extra 30 years of operation. This is "an effective solution" the plan said, given service life extension "is done at costs around 40% of new equivalent capacity." By doing this the country can "ensure the supply of electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, with minimal impact on the environment, at competitive costs, thus contributing sustainably to the decarbonisation of the energy sector and achieving Romania's energy and environment targets for 2030, in line with the objectives assumed at European and even global level (Paris Agreement)", the plan states.

The CANDU reactor is a heavy water moderated reactor (HWR), which allows for continuous operation with natural (unenriched) uranium. To my knowledge, the two existing reactors at Cernavoda are the only HWR reactors operating in Europe.

This puts Romania in the "cat bird" seat in Europe because of the remarkable properties of these reactors. (Of all thermal nuclear reactors, these are by far, my favorite.)

All of Canada's nuclear power reactors are of this type but the biggest player in the world for this design is India, which originally purchased reactors from Canada before deciding to manufacture reactors of the same design domestically. South Korea also utilizes a few HWR type reactors, I believe of Canadian design. India has been interested in this reactor because of its huge supply of thorium. Fueled with thorium, because of the high neutron efficiency of the HWR, coupled with the reasonably high value of the value of "Eta" for uranium-233 which is made from thorium, HWR can act as breeders, albeit with a much lower breeding ratio than fast reactors running on plutonium.

When run on natural uranium, the HWR has low "burn ups" of around 7000 MWd/ton. (MWd = Megawatt days, a unit of energy, not power.) "Burn ups" can be thought of as fuel efficiency, sort of like miles per gallon. PWRs and BWRs which dominate the world nuclear fleet have much higher burnups. Modern fuel management techniques have allowed for burn ups in the range of 30,000 - 40,000 MWd/ton.

HWRs can also run on uranium discharged from other types of moderated reactors, such as the far more common PWR's and BWRs, thus turning so called "nuclear waste" into a fuel source. This fuel cycle is called the DUPIC cycle. It offers a very special tool for avoiding uranium mining. (I argue that pathways exist to eliminate the need for uranium mining indefinitely; the uranium and thorium already mined have an energy content sufficient to sustain all of humanity's energy needs for centuries.)

One of the major advantages of the DUPIC cycle is its ability to provide neptunium and plutonium-238, since once through uranium contains (via neutron capture rather than fission of U-235) significant quantities of U-236. As a result any plutonium produced in the reactor will have a considerable heat load from plutonium-238 - the isotope that powers space craft - making it useless for use in nuclear weapons.

In fact, an option that I feel should be explored would be to denature weapons grade plutonium by running CANDU type reactors on a ternary mixture of weapons grade plutonium, once through uranium, and thorium. Under these circumstances, very high burn ups, perhaps much higher than those found in PWRs and BWR may be achieved. If I recall correctly, I've seen figures of 60,000 MWd/ton.

Nicolae Ceaușescu was, of course, a monster, a Trumpian/Stalinist figure, but the reactors at Cernavoda are nonetheless, a positive resource for humanity and I'm very pleased that Romania has an energy policy that will exploit these resources for all of Europe and all of humanity, irrespective of a tragic history by which they came. This is especially important given the high gas prices in Europe because the wind stopped blowing. These reactors will soften the blow of future Dunkelflaute events like those being experienced presently in Europe and California, softening the climate impacts of the wind/gas pair as well as the economic impact which disproportionately effects the poor.

It is notable, also included in the same article, that Romania plans to develop lead cooled fast reactors. This should put Romania at the center of any European effort to avoid the need for uranium mining for generations.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

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Reply Romania plans to double nuclear capacity. (Original post)
NNadir Oct 6 OP
msongs Oct 6 #1
John ONeill Oct 6 #2
NNadir Oct 7 #3
John ONeill Oct 8 #4

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 08:20 PM

1. maybe they could get a couple of used reactors cheap from chernobyl nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 6, 2021, 11:29 PM

2. Chernobyl reactors

Russia is still using about ten RBMK reactors, the type used at Chernobyl. At the moment, they're making about ten times as much power as Germany's celebrated wind turbines (which have been having a bad month), and half as much as Germany's less feted coal plants. Unlike the coal plants, they're not killing anyone - even in 1986, German coal emissions were killing more people than an exploding reactor.

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Response to msongs (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 7, 2021, 03:59 AM

3. One of the fun things about anti-nukes is the similarity they have to antvaxxers

An antivaxxer, of course, will take a rare event, say a strong reaction of some person somewhere to a vaccine and magnify to attempt to justify the unnecessary deaths of millions of people from Covid, selective attention equivalent to the anti-nukes use of muttering the word "Chernobyl" to justify deaths from air pollution, now thought to range between six and seven million people per year.

This means that people whining about Chernobyl are directly responsible for promoting the deaths of 210 to 240 million people since Chernobyl.

Anti-nukes couldn't care less.

They are so stupid that they think their muttering "Chernobyl" means something, and it does, but not what they think it does. It means that their contempt for humanity knows no bounds.

For them, Chernobyl means that nuclear energy is "too dangerous" but air pollution and climate change is acceptable while they wait in their idiot little fool aeries for the wind and solar miracle that did not come, is not here and won't come, this after half a century of mindless prattling and hype and the squandering of trillions of dollars on this chimeric fantasy to promote mining and world dependence on fracking dangerous natural gas.

Nuclear engineers, who are highly educated people with a deep level of knowledge, really don't care the obsession's ignoramuses have with Chernobyl, which is easily engineered away, just as aerospace engineers engineer away aircraft failures, the latter, failures of aircraft, having killed far more people than have more than half a century of commercial nuclear experience.

Anti-nukes have the critical thinking skills and moral depth of a lemon, by which I don't mean to insult lemons with the comparison. Lemons after all have value.

There is no way to raise the intellectual or moral level of anti-nukes anymore than there is any way to raise the intellectual or moral level of anti-vaxxers. They are precisely equivalent.

Fortunately the Romanian government couldn't give a rats ass about ignoramuses. They care about the dangers of climate change, even if, as is clear, anti-nukes don't.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #3)

Fri Oct 8, 2021, 04:24 PM

4. antis

I don't think antinukes, or antivaxers, are irredeemable. My brother and his wife were down on the covid vaccine - they're Catholic, and the vaccines were tested, and some manufactured, using a cell line from a fetus aborted in the Netherlands about fifty years back. I think I've ground down their resistance, though. You used to be antinuke yourself, so clearly it is possible to raise the intellectual level of some of them.

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