India Expected to Make Deal to Build Six New Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear Power Plant

After the recent climate change summit in France, countries are looking to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and embrace cleaner, renewable forms of energy. The latest Hindi business news from outlets like Money Bhaskar is that India’s government is taking steps to become less reliant upon fossil fuels in order to do its part to clean up the environment and mitigate the advancement of climate change.

The government announced that it is on the verge of making a deal with Westinghouse Electric to build six new nuclear power plants during the first half of the New Year.

India’s Nuclear Power Programme Set to Take Off

Major reports have focused on an announcement made on December 24 that quotes government officials as saying the country is close to signing a deal with Westinghouse Electric for construction to get underway on a new power plant in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.

The addition of 60 new nuclear reactors in total will make India the world’s second-largest nuclear energy producer after China.

The country is intent on increasing its nuclear power production to 63,000 megawatts by 2032, up from the current production of 5,780 megawatts. Recent studies have shown that India’s air quality is becoming severely compromised due to heavy greenhouse gas emissions.

Delhi has historically been the worst major urban center for air quality, but Mumbai and other large cities are quickly catching up. The current government’s nuclear program is expected to cost about $150 billion US when it reaches completion.

Insurance Pool Being Create to Assuage Supplier Concerns

India’s interest in relying more heavily on nuclear power has been fraught with complications. In 2008, it signed a pact with the U.S. paving the way for nuclear commerce that had previously been complicated by the country’s nuclear weapons policies, and its shunning of the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In 2010, a law adopted that gave the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) the right to seek damages from suppliers in the event of an accident, chased away billions of dollars in business due to fear on the part of supply companies that they would get sued for the smallest of infractions.

Now, government officials are in the process of setting up an insurance pool that would significantly reduce liability. The pool is expected to work approximately Rs 150 crore or just over $225 million U.S.

The final hurdle before construction can begin will be the ratification of the International Atomic Energy Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC). A government official is on record as saying that should happen within the next few weeks. The CSC requires that liability shifts to the plant operators and offers access to relief funds in the event of an accident.

White Westinghouse, a division of the Toshiba Corp., made no mention of ongoing negotiations, it did release a statement that said it expects India will produce a framework that will satisfy CSC requirements.

Atomic Energy Minister Jitendra Singh told Parliament earlier in December that talks are in progress with French and American firms for project proposals. He did not offer any further details.

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