India and Russia signed another key nuclear cooperation deal on Monday in Moscow, opening the way for Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom to play a major role in the subcontinent’s plans to expand its nuclear capacity tenfold by 2020.
Russia is already building two 1-GW VVER-1000 reactors in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, through its equipment and service export monopoly Atomstroyexport. India’s state nuclear body Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) will reportedly pay more than $3.5 billion for those reactors.
The deal allows the federation to negotiate on prices for additional reactors at that site and to study new sites for nuclear plants. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Rosatom could start developing the Haripur site in West Bengal state and that the cooperation agreement will expand beyond reactor building to research and development.
A similar deal is in the pipeline for France’s AREVA. The nuclear giant said an agreement with NPCIL to build a two-EPR plant in the western state of Maharashtra may be signed early next year, according to Bloomberg. Alstom is also reportedly working to set up a venture to supply plant equipment in India.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg quoted a Westinghouse Electric official as saying that company could sign a reactor accord with India next year. On Tuesday, meanwhile, the news agency reported that GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, which also plans to build a nuclear plant could produce as much as 70% of the components locally to reduce costs by nearly half. Those components could also be exported to customers in the U.S. and Europe, it said.
Interest is meanwhile growing in India’s nuclear workforce. According to Indian newspaper The Financial Express, Meena Mutyala, a Westinghouse senior executive said her company wants to use India’s engineering talent pool and develop the country as a base for exporting nuclear power project equipment to other markets and also for project implementation abroad.
Westinghouse, GE, and several companies like Bechtel Power, Cameco, and Excell Services, are in India as part of a delegation with more than 50 members to participate in the 5th annual U.S. commercial nuclear mission.
Sources: NPCIL, Bloomberg, The Financial Express