Indian Cabinet reorients nuclear ambitions

The Indian Cabinet has recently declared the approval of ten 700 MWe indigenous PHWR nuclear reactors, without locations or timeline, but as a “fully homegrown initiative” with likely manufacturing orders to Indian industry of about INR 700B (USD 11B). The Prime Minister said it would help transform the domestic nuclear industry, which appears to suggest deferred expectations of establishing new nuclear plants with Western technology from Areva, GEH, and Westinghouse. The announcement echoes the country’s XII plan for 2012-2017 which envisaged construction starts on eight 700 MWe indigenous PHWRs, as well as completion by now of five reactors under construction since 2011 or before. It also had construction starts on eight larger imported reactors, only the Russian two of which are nearly ready to go. In the announcement no mention was made of the other elements of the XII plan – the Western reactors, and three indigenous advanced units.
Disincentives arising from the 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act account for Western suppliers holding back their projects, Russian reactors being under grandfathered provisions predating the law. But there is also a slowdown in construction generally, apparently due both to financial constraints and to the reluctance of Indian supply chain companies to provide equipment without the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd giving indemnity under the 2010 law.

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