French firm EDF fresh proposal to NPCIL for Jaitapur nuclear power plant

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New Delhi: A French firm, which is to build six atomic reactors at Jaitapur, has submitted a fresh plan to the NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India) proposing to share a larger role in the engineering aspect of the project, a top executive of the company said.

The firm, EDF, and NPCIL have also resolved to sign the general framework agreement (GFA) for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) by the end of 2017.

French President Emmanuel Macron is likely to visit India by the year-end and the two sides are working to fast-track the negotiations so that the GFA could be signed during that time, the EDF official, who did not wish to be quoted, said.

The EDF is to build six reactors, each with a capacity of 1650 MW each. When operational, the proposed plant, some 500km south of Mumbai, will be the largest nuclear power generation park in the country.

Construction of a nuclear plant is usually discussed in terms of the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction). The EDF has proposed to take care of the engineering part and a large chunk of the procurement of equipment which have to be sourced from abroad, the official said.

This position has been different from what Areva, which has been taken over by EDF, had proposed when the negotiations had initially begun. However, EDF insists that NPCIL should take care of the construction part as it has the experience of building the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP).

The NPCIL, on the other hand, wants EDF to take the full responsibility of EPC, citing the reason that the EPR technology—EPR refers to third generation pressurized water reactor design—is new to India.

A senior Indian government official, on condition of anonymity, pointed out that GFA hinges on three aspects—lower tariff, credit and a functional reference plant. No call has been taken on the fresh proposal given by the NPCIL, the official said.

“Discussions are on between the ministry of finance and the French treasury department to resolve the issues related to credit. Some part of it will be in euros while the rest will be in rupees,” the EDF official said.

The Flamanville EPR nuclear power reactor, which has been shown as a reference plant for the JNPP, is expected to be commissioned by 2018, the French official hoped. The EDF is constructing another EPR plant at Taishan in Guangdong province of China and it is expected to be operational by the end of this year, the official added.

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