Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and the President of France, Mr. Emmanuel Macron at the Joint Press Statement, at Chateau de Chantilly, in France on August 22, 2019.

The Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant, one of the biggest nuclear power plants proposed in the world and also one that has been in limbo for years, is likely to reach its final stages by the end of the year 2019. This was revealed at the joint press conference addressed by France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a visit to Paris.

President Macron said that the two sides will hold discussions on Jaitapur Nuclear Power project by the end of the year. At the same time the Indian Prime Minister emphasised that the differences must be ironed out while keeping the power tariff in check as well.

“If we talk about civil nuclear, there will be discussion on Jaitapur (Nuclear Power Project) by the end of this year, so that we can take Jaitapur project forward,” the French President said after his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi at Chateau de Chantilly, a 19th-century site located in Oise, 60 kilometers from the country’s capital in Paris.

The discussions between French power giant Electricite de France (EDF) and Nuclear Power Corporation of Indian Limited (NPCIL) have been hitting a roadblock as they could not arrive at a mutually agreeable tariff plan.

In the joint statement issued at the end of the bilateral meeting Indian the Prime Minister said: “France is the first country with which we have signed a civil nuclear arrangement. We have asked our respective companies to expedite the negotiations on Jaitapur and to keep in mind the price of the electricity that will be generated.”

The French subsidiary is undergoing quite an upheaval itself with the Macron government calling for its restructuring and audit. While it is not clear what the restructuring will entail, it is evident that the French government wants to scale down its operations of EDF in the nuclear power sector. The shape of EDF is also likely to be finalised by the end of the year. According to French media reports, EDF has been facing cash crunch owing to volatile power tariff and tough competition.

The Indian government has been watching the developments in the French Utility. The country’s former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant will be finalised only when the reference power plant for the EPR nuclear reactor.

The plant at Jaitapur, Maharashtra is one of the largest in the world with six EPR reactors with individual capacity of 1650 MW. However, its finalisation has been taking time as it has ran into hurdles ranging from financial to land acquisition since its inception in September 2008 through an Indo-French deal. The deal saw a forward movement after almost a decade in early 2018 following the visit of the French President to India when an Industrial Way Forward Agreement was signed between the NPCIL and EDF.

The fight against Climate Change

The two countries also renewed their commitment towards the global efforts towards combating climate change under the principles of the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Paris Agreement. India and France will be participating in the upcoming Climate Action Summit convened by the United Nations Secretary-General on September 23.

While affirming to accelerate their quest for increasing the share of renewable energy in the total energy matrix of the countries, the two leaders also expressed satisfaction at the progress made by the International Solar Alliance, which has been the result of the cooperation between the two countries.

“Discussions are ongoing for the tripartite projects, particularly on the issues of solar irrigation and rural development in African countries and on developing skills through vocational training to sustain the development of the solar photovoltaic sector in Chad,” the joint statement added.

India and France agreed that oceans play an important role in combating climate change, preserving biodiversity, and development, and, acknowledging the link between environment and security, decided to enlarge the scope of their maritime cooperation to address these issues.

For sustainable use of marine resources, the two sides agreed to work towards ocean governance, including through coordination in relevant international bodies.