‘Industrial Way Forward Agreement’ on Nuclear Reactor

IAS Prelims 2023

Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Electricite de France (EDF) of France have on March 10, 2018 signed an Industrial Way Forward Agreement for implementation of six nuclear power reactor units at Jaitapur, Maharashtra with a total capacity of about 10,000 MW.

Jaitapur is set to be the biggest nuclear project in the world, with a total power capacity of around 10 GW. Under the terms of the agreement, EDF will act as supplier of the EPR technology. EDF will undertake all engineering studies and all component procurement activities for the first two reactors.

India is sixth in rank, after USA, France, Japan, Russian and the Republic of Korea, to have twenty or more nuclear power reactors in operation.

The proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is located at the west coast. This project will spread over 968 hectares of land. Jaitapur is on the Arabian Sea coast in Ratnagiri district in the southwestern part of Maharashtra, India. The district is a part of Konkan in Western Ghats. The Sahyadri Mountain range forms the eastern boundary of the Konkan, and the Arabian Sea marks the western boundary.

In its capacity as owner and future operator of the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant, NPCIL shall be responsible for obtaining all authorisations and certifications required in India, and for constructing all six reactors and site infrastructures.

The Evolutionary Pressurized Reactors (EPRs) are evolutionary reactors, whose design has evolved from “KONVOI’ and “N4’ reactors which have been in operation in Germany and France respectively for about two decades.

Further, the work at Jaitapur will be commenced only on demonstration of full power operation of Flamanville-3 under construction in France, as reference plant, to have an operationally proven technology.

There are currently four EPRs under construction viz. Olkiluoto-3 in Finland, Flamanville-3 in France and Taishan 1&2 in China. There have been reports that these reactors are delayed. There is delay in execution of the project and this is not attributable to the technology itself.

Once installed, the Jaitapur project will be the largest nuclear power plant in the world, with a total capacity of 9.6 GW. It will contribute, in addition to renewable energy, to achieving India’s goal of 40 per cent non-fossil energy by 2030.

The Indo-French nuclear agreement was signed in 2008 and it was decided to build a nuclear power plant in Jaitapur, some 600 km south of Mumbai. The power plant will have six reactors with a capacity of 1,650 MW each. However, the EDF and the NPCIL are yet to agree on the cost per unit and the credit aspect to be provided by France to India for building the plant.

The localization includes transfer of rights on technology and it needs to be mutually agreed. During the negotiations with the NPCIL, the French side has also raised concerns about the civil liability regime in India. However, these differences seemed to have been ironed out in the delegation-level talk.

The Government of India has set up Rs 1,500-crore nuclear insurance pool. It was put in place by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in June 2015 and set up by General Insurance Company and other insurance companies. It provides insurance coverage to operators and suppliers for any nuclear liability towards the third party under the Civil Liability of Nuclear Damage Act, 2010.

Since Jaitapur being a seismically sensitive area, the danger of an earthquake has been foremost on the minds of people. According to the Earthquake hazard zoning of India, Jaitapur comes under Zone III.

It is not clear where the nuclear waste from the site will be dumped. The plant is estimated to generate 300 tonnes of used nuclear fuel each year, the volume of a 2.5 m sided cube.

Since the plant will use the sea water for cooling and then release warmed water in the Arabian Sea, fishermen in villages around fear the destruction of fisheries in the nearby sea.