EDF submits binding offer to set up 6 EPR reactors at Jaitapur in India


French state-run power utility Électricité de France (EDF) has submitted a binding techno-commercial offer to the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for the construction of six EPR reactors for the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant (NPP) in India’s Maharashtra state.

An EDF statement said the company’s binding offer, submitted at the end of last month, includes the detailed technical configuration of the reactors and comprehensive commercial terms and conditions for the supply of technical studies and equipment for the six EPR reactors. The EPR (Evolutionary Pressurised Reactor) is a Generation III pressurised water reactor that has been designed and developed mainly by Framatome and EDF in France, and Siemens in Germany.

“The offer from EDF and its partners includes: the detailed technical configuration of the reactors taking into account the information provided by NPCIL on the Jaitapur site conditions and the joint comprehensive work performed by EDF and NPCIL; the associated comprehensive commercial terms and conditions for the supply of engineering studies and equipment for 6 EPR reactors”, the statement said.

Describing the proposed 9,900 MW nuclear plant with six reactors of 1,650 MW each, that will come up in Jaitapur located on the western coast of the country, the French ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain, said it would be the “world’s most powerful plant”. The Jaitapur NPP will be completed over a period of 15 years. It would meet the annual electricity needs of 70 million Indian households and prevent emission of an estimated 80 million tonnes of CO2 per year, EDF said.

EDF Chairman Jean-Bernard Lévy described the submission of the offer as a “major step forward” for the EDF group, as well as the French nuclear industry. “This key milestone has been achieved thanks to the trust-based relationship built over time with our Indian partner, and the excellent collaboration and continuous efforts of the EDF and NPCIL teams. This is yet another significant step towards the materialisation of this flagship project for our great nations, and the establishment of a long-term partnership in the civil nuclear field between both our leading nuclear industries,” he said.

Under the offer, EDF will provide the EPR technology, including engineering studies and equipment for the construction of the reactors, with Framatome providing engineering studies and equipment for the nuclear steam supply systems, while GE Steam Power would provide the studies and equipment for the conventional islands, which are to be equipped with Arabelle steam turbines. EDF will also offer training for NPCIL’s future operating teams. Instead, NPCIL, as the owner and future operator of the plant, will be responsible for the construction and commissioning of the units, as well as obtaining all necessary permits and consents in India, including certification of the EPR technology by India’s nuclear safety regulator – the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

EDF will not be an investor in the project, nor will it be in charge of construction, the company said. “In line with the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ national initiatives, EDF and its partners also aim to encourage the involvement of India’s industrial sector”, the statement said. “In this spirit, the EDF Group is deploying a strategy based on in-depth work to identify Indian companies that could be selected as suppliers of the project: to date, some 200 have already been pre-qualified”, it added.

Other aspects of this strategy include setting up an engineering platform in India to carry out part of the detailed engineering studies and all execution plans, and “launch of a pre-feasibility study, conducted by EDF, I2EN (International Institute of Nuclear Energy) and VJTI (Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute), for the establishment of a centre in India aiming to train engineers and technicians, and to support the development of the necessary set of skills for the project.”

The potential socio-economic benefits to India from the project will include around 25,000 direct local jobs during the construction phase for a pair of EPR units, and around 2,700 permanent jobs would be created during the operation of the six units, EDF said. The project will also bring “significant economic benefits” for the French nuclear industry “with tens of thousands of jobs in the hundred or so involved French companies”, it added.

The statement also said that the EDF offer is the culmination of the work carried out jointly with NPCIL further to the signature of the Industrial Way Forward Agreement on March 10, 2018, which was followed by a non-binding offer submitted later in the same year. The agreement signed by the CEOs of EDF and NPCIL set out the industrial framework and planned timetable for the implementation of the Jaitapur EPRs, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the partners.

The Jaitapur NPP has been running into hurdles ranging from financial to land acquisition since its inception in September 2008 through an Indo-French agreement. After hanging fire for years, the project picked up pace in early 2018 following the signature of the Industrial Way Forward Agreement.

India currently has 22 nuclear reactors in operation with a total capacity of 6,780 MW, and one more unit – Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP)-III of 700 MW capacity located in Gujarat state – was synchronised with the grid on January 10, 2021. The government has granted administrative approval and financial sanction for the construction of 12 more reactors, of which 10 are for indigenously built 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), as well as for 2 Light Water Reactors (LWRs) to be set up in cooperation with the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom. The 10 planned PHWRs are units 5 and 6 at Kaiga in Karnataka state, units 1 and 2 at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, 4 units at Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan and units 1 and 2 at Gorakhpur in Haryana.

Currently, 8 reactors are under construction in the country with a combined capacity of 6,200 MW. On completion of these, NPCIL’s capacity will reach 12,980 MW by 2025. India’s nuclear power capacity is expected to increase to 22,480 MW by 2031 on the completion of the proposed projects. Two Russian-made VVER units of 1,000 MW capacity each are currently operating at the Kudankulam NPP, where 4 more VVER-1000 units are under construction. As per an intergovernmental agreement, Rosatom will also help construct 6 more units in India at another location.