France, India Moving Forward with Massive Nuclear Project

India’s government-owned National Nuclear Power Corp. (NPCIL) in March signed cooperation agreements for equipment and construction related to the massive 9,900-MW Jaitapur project in Maharashtra, the world’s largest nuclear plant project in terms of generation capacity.

Jaitapur is the key project in nuclear collaboration between India and France, which was first broached in 2009 when NPCIL and France’s Areva (now Orano) signed a memorandum of understanding to work on nuclear projects. French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in New Delhi in March and signed an agreement to expedite construction of Jaitapur, and also highlighted other cooperative projects between the countries for solar energy, technology, and defense. The contracts include an Industrial Way Forward Agreement signed March 10 with French power company EDF for the implementation of six EPR, pressurized water reactors at Jaitapur.

EDF holds a 51% share of the joint venture, including responsibility for engineering integration of the nuclear plant. EDF began negotiating with NPCIL in 2016, and that year issued a proposal for development and construction of six EPR units for a nuclear facility. EPR units are currently being built at three other sites: Flamanville 3 in France, Olkiluoto 3 in Finland, and two units at Taishan in China. Taishan 1 is expected to come online first, entering commercial operation later this year. NPCIL hopes to begin construction at Jaitapur by year-end, though no in-service date for the project has been set.

Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF’s chairman and CEO, in a statement said, “The industrial agreement just signed with NPCIL marks a decisive step in the development of the Jaitapur nuclear project, meaning we can now envisage with confidence the rest of this essential project for India and for EDF. We are proud to support the Indian government in its objective of achieving an energy mix that is 40 percent carbon-free in 2030. Our presence in India, already tangible in the areas of renewable energies and smart city is a perfect illustration of our CAP 2030 strategy, which aims to develop a low-carbon mix and innovative energy services for urban and rural areas.”

EDF has agreements with both Indian and French companies for project operations. One contract, with Assystem, Egis, Reliance, and Bouygues, covers installation of an engineering platform for Jaitapur. EDF and the other four companies will determine the scope of their collaboration over the next few months. A second agreement with Indian engineering company Larsen & Toubro, and AFCEN and Bureau Veritas of France, would create a training center for design and construction standards for equipment manufacturing for the Jaitapur plant.

NPCIL, in its role as owner and operator of the facility, is responsible for obtaining certifications and will oversee construction of the reactors and plant infrastructure, with assistance from EDF and its partners. EDF is supplying the EPR technology and leading the engineering and component procurement for the first two reactors. Indian companies could assume some responsibilities for the other four units as part of the “Make in India” and “Skill India” programs. India currently has 22 operating nuclear reactors at seven plants (Figure 1), with about 6,220 MW of generating capacity. Six units with generating capacity of 4,350 MW are under construction, and there are plans for another 19 units over the next decade, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Figure 4_IndiaNuclearPlans_WNA
1. More nuclear generation. India’s government wants to increase the country’s nuclear output, adding to current generation capacity of about 6,220 MW. Red dots on the map denote projects already in service; yellow dots are those being developed or under construction. Courtesy: World Nuclear Association 

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor.