Years after Indo-US nuclear deal, very little progress on n-deal projects

Source: Indian Express

Relevance – Nuclear energy Development in India.

Synopsis: A picture of the slow progress of greenfield projects under the Indo-US nuclear deal. Current scenario of some projects.

Background

Signed in 2005, the 123 agreement signed between the United States of America and the Republic of India is known as the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Objectives

  • As per the deal, India agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear activity.
  • India also agreed to open up the civilian part to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • In return, the US offered to resume full nuclear trade (selling of reactors, transfer of technology, Uranium sale) with India, ending its nuclear ostracism.
  • A major aspect of the Indo-US nuclear deal was the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) gave a special waiver to India that enabled it to sign cooperation agreements with a dozen countries
Current scenario
  • Other than the imported Russian-built reactor-based project in Tamil Nadu (Kudankulam) under an earlier 1998 agreement, progress of greenfield projects since the Indo-US nuclear deal has been slow.
  • The US has been discussing the sale of nuclear reactors to India since the 2008 pact and two subsequent agreements were signed only in 2016 and 2019.
    • A “project proposal” to set up six reactors in collaboration with Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) has been announced.
    • However, the work is yet to begin.
  • Another major project involved the French state-owned operator Areva, which was subsequently taken over by the French electricity utility EDF, also controlled by the state.
    • EDF is learnt to have submitted to NPCIL this year a “binding techno-commercial offer to supply engineering studies and equipment” for the construction of six EPR reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
    • This will effectively enable discussions aimed at a binding framework agreement in the coming months, and the submission of EDF’s non-binding proposal at the end of 2018.
  • The project in Kovvada in coastal Andhra Pradesh, about 260 km from Visakhapatnam, will comprise six AP-1000 reactor units of 1208 MWe (mega watt electric) capacity each.
    • In May 2017, the Union Cabinet gave it “in-principle” approval.
    • WEC’s AP-1000s are Light Water Reactors, like the ones being set up in collaboration with Russia in Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam, where water is used both as coolant and moderator. WEC has been negotiating to build reactors in India since the nuclear deal was inked.
    • The project came under a cloud after WEC filed for bankruptcy.

Terms to know

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