Nuclear suppliers look to India

13 May 2016

Electricite de France (EDF) will put forward a deal to supply six nuclear reactors to India by the end of 2016, Reuters reported on 12 May. "India has asked us to present a complete technical and economic proposal for six EPRs (Evolutionary Pressurised Water Reactors) by the end of this year. We are working hard on this," EDF head of new nuclear Xavier Ursat told shareholders at their annual general meeting. EDF in January announced a preliminary agreement with Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) to build six EPRs at Jaitapur in western India.

NPCIL and US-based Westinghouse Electric are also reported to be in advanced stages of talks for building six nuclear reactors. The US administration appears to be supportive. On 11 May, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on South Asia: "We have seen in the past year-and-a-half significant progress with respect to India's establishing its liabilities law which are compliant with international convention on supplementary compensation." India has ratified it and is now a member of the international convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage, she added, noting that India has also established an insurance pool.

"I think each individual company at this point has to make its own commercial decisions in terms of opportunities and in terms of risks. I think we are starting to see companies making those decisions," Biswal said. "It is at this point largely a commercial decision. We stand ready through the US Government, through our financing bodies to support." A commercial deal could be inked during next month's expected visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington.

Meanwhile, fuel loading has started at unit 2 of the Kudankulam NPP, being built with Russian assistance in Tamil Nadu. The first fuel assembly was loaded into the reactor core at on 11 May. While Russia develops the design documentation and supplies the equipment, construction of the plant, start-up and commissioning are the responsibility of India. According to NPCIL, unit 2 is expected to officially achieve minimum controlled power in June 2016.



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