India’s Atomic Energy Commission and its state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. of India Limited (NPCIL) on Monday signed major agreements with France’s AREVA for the construction of two EPR reactors—the first of a series of six—at Jaitapur in the western state of Maharashtra.
The French firm also agreed to supply uranium for the 60-year life of the Indian reactors, with the initial fuel pact spanning 25 years for the two units that are slated to come online in 2018.
The agreements, signed by Dr. S.K. Jain, chairman and managing director of NPCIL and Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of AREVA, officially kick off the project. Starting in 2011, NPCIL and AREVA will undertake studies enabling site excavation, begin the process to obtain approval from the Indian nuclear safety authority, and begin detailed technical configuration of the Jaitapur reactors.
AREVA, which has four Generation III 1,650-MW EPRs under construction around the world—two in China, one in France, and one in Finland—said the “historic agreement” was a result of a “long-term” partnership with India to develop EPRs in India.
Companies around the world have been vying to build new nuclear plants for India, which has a booming economy and ambitious plans to increase generating capacity and reduce chronic power shortfalls. By 2030, the country plans to install 63 GW of new nuclear capacity. NPCIL already has 17 units in operation with a total installed capacity of 4,120 MW. Five new units totaling 2,660 MW are under construction.
NPCIL admitted that several details will need to be ironed out, including pricing for the EPR reactors. The framework agreement envisions the sale of nuclear reactors, fuel and services worth about €7 billion (or around Rs 42,000 crore at current exchange rates), Lauvergeon told reporters. Details are to be worked out in the final contract.
Indian media widely reported that the pricing delay hinged on the insurance cost, which in turn was linked to liability issues. Lauvergeon also said that while the French side wanted more "clarity" on the Indian liability law, she asserted that the issue would not be a "deal breaker.”
Sources: AREVA, NPCIL