Romania Planned New Power Capacities Idle Due to Subdued Demand

Romania doesn’t need to invest in new power capacities in the next 10 years as demand will be capped by shrinking industrial production, officials from Fondul Proprietatea SA and consulting firm AT Kearney Inc said.

The government, which plans to add two more new nuclear reactors at its Cernavoda plant and build new power plants with the help of foreign investors, should refrain from spending money on projects that boost production and focus more on increasing the efficiency of existing plants, Michael Weiss, a partner at AT Kearney, said in Bucharest today.

“Without major industry investments there is no need for extra capacities because existing ones can accommodate demand by 2025,” Weiss said during the presentation of a study on Romania’s energy system. “Investments are warranted if they aim to replace outdated existing capacities. Romania still uses lignite to stabilize the power market, which is not the best practice.”

Romania, the European Union’s second-poorest member, is trying to lure foreign investors to help upgrade its outdated energy system as it seeks to diversify and lower costs for people and companies. It benefited from a boost in renewable energy in the past years as companies such as CEZ AS and Enel SpA invested millions of euros in wind, solar and biomass plants with a total installed capacity of more than 4,700 megawatts.

Investment Needs

Still, the country needs at least 100 billion euros ($116 billion) in investments in oil, gas and power by 2035, according to the Energy Ministry’s latest estimates. The government turned to Chinese investors after ArcelorMittal, Enel and other companies withdrew from the 6 billion-euro project to build the reactors.

The reactors, together with a 1 billion-euro hydropower plant, expanding power and gas interconnection grids and Black Sea gas production are among Romania’s strategic objectives for reaching energy independence, according to a 2035 energy strategy that is currently up for public debate.

“An integrated nation-wide energy strategy, matching the economic strategy, is essential for the growth of the energy sector and should address issues such as the current low investor confidence and uncompetitive taxes,” said Greg Konieczny, a manager at Fondul Proprietatea.

Romania’s electricity demand will post “limited growth” in the next 10 years of between 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent as existing capacities can support the demand, AT Kearney estimated. That makes the reactor project “less commercially attractive without a major support scheme,” the study showed.

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