France’s Areva has signed an EUR 7 billion framework agreement with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for the construction of two EPR reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra state, to be commissioned in 2017-18, along with uranium fuel of 25 years. Alstom will supply the turbine- generators separately. Site work will begin next year with a view to begin construction from 2013. Jaitapur is to be a 9600 MWe energy park with six EPR units. Areva promises “maximum localization” of component production, and points to its 2009 agreement with Bharat Forge of Pune to set up by 2012 a new casting and forging facility in India for heavy nuclear components, to supply both domestic and export markets.
“In the field of nuclear energy, negotiations have reached an advance stage to pave the way for launching of nuclear power reactors in Jaitapur in partnership with Indian industry,” India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a joint news conference in New Delhi with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, while on a four-day India working trip, accompanied by several chiefs of French companies. NPCIL had earlier signed an initial agreement with Areva for the supply of six nuclear reactors in February 2009. On Nov. 29, NPCIL received environmental clearance for the Jaitapur plant, clearing another vital hurdle for the project.
The agreements were signed by Areva’s Chief Executive Anne Lauvergeon and NPCIL’s Chairman and Managing Director S. K. Jain. The pacts with Areva are likely to speed up the French company’s entry into the sizable Indian civilian nuclear power sector, ahead of its American rivals.
The process of setting up the reactors slowed after the U.S.-based companies raised concerns over a law passed by India in August that made them liable for damages in the event of a nuclear accident. Subsequently similar concerns have been expressed from France, the UK, Canada and elsewhere. The India Experts expects India take up these concerns in side agreements and regulations that convert its new liability law into actionable rules of engagement. Stay tuned.