India has asked American and French nuclear companies, which propose to build atomic plants in the country, to furnish details of functional reactors designed by them as proof of their efficacy. Sources said French company EDF and US firm Westinghouse are still not ready with fully operational ‘reference plants’, a pre-requisite before a final General Framework Agreement could be signed with these entities.
The EDF proposes to build six nuclear European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) of 1650 MW each in Jaitapur and Westinghouse another set of six AP1000 reactors in Kovadda in Andhra Pradesh with an individual capacity of 1000 MW.
A senior government official said designs presented by the two companies are new, so even the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) wants to see how the technology works.
“We have told them to show a reference nuclear plant, which is functional and produces electricity. On paper, the designs of these companies look nice, but we should also know whether they work well or not. This will also help in getting clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, the nuclear watchdog in the country,” the official said.
India specialises in Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors while the one which foreign companies are building are Light Water Reactors (LWRs) with some distinction from one another.
Interestingly, the Russian have built Kudankulam units one and two, a VVER technology.
The EDF, which is now negotiating with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), said it had given Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant 3 as the reference plant.
The French government-owned company said the Flamanville plant with a capacity of 1630 MW should be operational by next year.
However, sources said it might take a tad longer for the plant to become operational.
EDF is also building another EPR reactor Taishan in China and that is expected to be commissioned before Flamanville.
The company, which took over the reactor component of another French company Areva that was initially involved in discussion with the NPCIL, is building two more EPR plants in Hinkley Point in England.
The government official added that the NPCIL is hoping that by the time the negotiations are finalised, both these companies are in a position to showcase a reference plant.
Currently, discussions are being held techno-commercial at level with both these companies.