India and France are holding talks to lower the cost of power to finalise a nuclear commerce agreement between Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and French supplier Areva ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s France visit in April.
The two countries signed a pact in 2009 to set up a 9,900 megawatt power project with six European pressurised reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
Implementation of the controversial project has been held up because of differences over higher prices initially quoted by France and India’s stringent nuclear liability law.
Officials said talks were being held to bring down the price band to Rs 6.50-7 from the Rs 9-9.50 range initially set by France.
Both sides agreed to put final discussions on the liability issue on hold until India’s group insurance product is available for suppliers, sources said.
“We have to make nuclear power viable and affordable to consumers. As far as we are concerned, the unit price should be between Rs 6 and Rs 6.50 or thereabout,” said a government official, adding that India has set a target of 63,000MW of nuclear power by 2032 and that the price of clean energy must not be prohibitive.
The Department of Atomic Energy’s benchmark unit price in 2020-21, when the reactors are due to go critical, is Rs 6.50. “The price band of Rs 9 - Rs 9.50 or thereabout cannot be a workable proposition. The price we decide with France will impact negotiations between NPCIL and American suppliers,” said another official.
The France-assisted nuclear project is a part of India’s efforts to meet its energy needs to drive up economic growth and boost strategic ties. Other technical issues related to the supply of European reactors were also being examined, sources said.
The French company has been told to source material from Indian vendors to bring the power unit price down and boost PM Modi’s Make in India initiative — since sourcing from Indian firms can help France address the issue high prices of reactor parts.
Nuclear watchdog IAEA DG to visit India
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Yukiya Amano will be visiting India on Friday and is expected to make a tour of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant (RAPS).
Amano, the chief of the world’s nuclear watchdog agency, will hold talks with the officials of the ministry of external affairs and department of atomic energy and is expected to review the progress made on the Indo-US nuclear deal.
India had in 2014 ratified IAEA’s Additional Protocol and also brought 22 nuclear facilities under the agency’s safeguards.