Politehnica Bucharest set to become a regional hub for education and training for small nuclear reactors


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The National Polytechnic University of Science and Technology of Bucharest (UNSTPB) “will be a SMR (small nuclear reactors – ed.) education and training hub for the region”, in the context where Romania “is the first country in Europe, the second after the USA, which installs the American NuScale SMR technology”, says Mihnea Costoiu, the rector of the University, quoted in a press release. According to the university, “Romania through UNSTPB will share its knowledge in the nuclear sector to all countries in the region”.

The statement was made in the context of a visit to the higher education institution, more specifically to its E2 Energy Exploration Center, by John Kerry, Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources.

The E2 Center was inaugurated within the Faculty of Energy in May this year. and is part of the U.S. program Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST). The center houses the control room simulator for the VOYGRTM NuScale small modular reactor plant.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Kerry Announces Project Phoenix Participants and the Nuclear Expediting the Energy Transition (NEXT) Program

On the margins of the Three Seas Initiative Summit in Bucharest, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry announced U.S. actions to further the role of new, secure, and safe nuclear technologies in accelerating the clean energy transition. These actions expand on Romania’s leadership role in building the first small modular reactor (SMR) in Europe and in converting a former coal plant to advance nuclear energy.

Building on his announcement of Project Phoenix at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm El Sheikh (COP27), Secretary Kerry announced in a dedicated side event that project proposals from Czechia, Slovakia, and Poland were competitively selected to participate in Project Phoenix and will receive support for coal-to-SMR feasibility studies.  The side event took place at the University Politehnica of Bucharest and also featured the SMR simulator training center that was installed earlier this year.  Secretary Kerry was joined by senior government officials from Romania, Slovakia, Czechia, and Poland, and senior executives from the nuclear industry.

Secretary Kerry also highlighted that the United States and the Government of Slovakia will co-host a Project Phoenix launch event, including a workshop with foreign partners in Bratislava on November 9.  Project Phoenix supports energy security and climate goals by creating pathways for coal-to-SMR power plant conversions while retaining local jobs through workforce retraining.

While in Bucharest, Secretary Kerry also launched the Nuclear Expediting the Energy Transition (NEXT) One Stop Shop for SMR Support.  The One Stop Shop will provide countries in Europe and Eurasia that are approaching SMR deployment decisions at the NEXT virtual center where they can apply for a suite of advanced project preparation tools and services.  These services may include in-person technical, financial, and regulatory consultancies and advisory services; expert study tours to visit U.S. nuclear facilities, national laboratories, and universities; competitively selected provision of an SMR simulator to support workforce development as a regional training hub; and university-to-university partnerships for curricula development, faculty and graduate student and other educational exchanges to support the next generation of nuclear engineers, operators, and technicians who prioritize the highest international standards of nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation.

Project Phoenix and NEXT One Stop Shop are subprograms of the U.S. Department of State’s Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) Program. The United States is committed to supporting the use of innovative, safe, and secure clean energy technologies to power global decarbonization efforts, advance energy security worldwide, and provide options to achieve net zero transition in hard-to-abate energy sectors.

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