Russia and India will finalize a deal for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam nuclear plant during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow this week, according to reports in the Indian media.
Russia has been on a major drive to sell its nuclear technology abroad, while India has been on a similar campaign to expand its generation base. The two countries agreed in 2014 on a deal to build Units 3 and 4 at the Kudankulam site in Tamil Nadu, which currently houses a two-unit plant built by the Nuclear Power Corp. of India, using Russian technology and engineering assistance.
The original Kudankulam plant began development in the 1980s but languished for more than a decade before beginning construction in 2002. Unit 1 came online in 2014 and Unit 2 in 2015. The plant has helped alleviate a critical electricity shortage in the area.
The new deal is expected to involve a site in Andhra Pradesh to the north, and will mimic the deal for the other units in that much of the work will be performed by Indian firms. The design will use the same Russian VVER technology employed for Units 1–4, but further details have not yet been released. Russia has expressed intentions to supply as many as 20 reactors to India, though some observers see this as overly ambitious given the current state of the Russian economy.
Modi was elected on a promise to accelerate electrification of the country—one quarter of Indians have no access to electricity—and has worked to expand India’s options for increasing its generation capacity, especially through carbon-free sources. He also signed an agreement with U.S. President Barack Obama on nuclear cooperation in January 2015, which opened the door for U.S. nuclear companies such as GE to compete for Indian business.
Modi is visiting Russia Dec. 23–25.
—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).