India nuclear plant with French reactors gets green go-ahead

Nov 29, 2010 12:00 AM

Nuclear energy accounted for about 2.9 % of India's energy generation, and the government wanted to increase the figure to 6 % by 2020 and possibly 13 % by 2030.

India gave environmental clearance for a nuclear power plant to be built in collaboration with French firm Areva. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said that the go-ahead for the Jaitapur plant in Maharashtra state, which will use nuclear reactors supplied by Areva, was granted with 35 conditions and safeguards.
“From an environmental point of view, nuclear energy is a cleaner option than coal,” yet, further studies into the power station's potential environmental impact are called for.

A 34-year-old embargo on civilian nuclear exchanges with India, imposed in 1974 following a series of Indian nuclear tests, was lifted in 2008 after years of negotiations between India and the US. France has since signed an agreement with India covering nuclear energy cooperation, while Russia has also signed a similar accord. The power station will be situated in the coastal region of Maharashtra, home to India's financial capital of Mumbai, and has faced protests from locals and anti-nuclear activists. Nuclear energy accounted for about 2.9 % of India's energy generation, and the government wanted to increase the figure to 6 % by 2020 and possibly 13 % by 2030.
Apparently, Areva and the Indian state-run Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) would sign the agreement during Sarkozy's trip to Delhi. The French president's itinerary has yet to be confirmed but he is expected to arrive in India soon.

The NPC predicts the first reactor, costing an estimated 4 to 6 bn EUR ( $ 5.3- $ 7.9 bn ) will be commissioned in 2017-18. The proposed project will eventually have 6 reactors generating 1,650 MW each. It has several more government regulatory hurdles to overcome before being given the final go-ahead. India is dependent on oil imports for 70 % of its fast-expanding energy needs, and is on the hunt for new sources to fuel its rapid growth.

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