A file photo of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant (Mint file)
A file photo of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant (Mint file)

Russia’s Rosatom keen on partnering Indian companies to work on nuclear reactors

  • Rosatom is present in India through a partnership with Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd for the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu
  • The company is also interested in wind energy and small hydropower projects

New Delhi: Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corp is interested in partnering Indian companies to work on small- and medium-sized nuclear reactors, according to a top company executive.

Rosatom is already present in India through a partnership with state-run Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd for the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, and is also interested in wind energy and small hydropower projects.

This is in addition to Rosatom’s collaboration interest with Indian firms for large nuclear power plants in the backdrop of India’ strategy to expand its footprint in Africa by exploring supply of small nuclear power reactors to the electricity-starved countries.

“For those countries that don’t have significant demand or the system capacity to absorb large capacity power units, a similar solution with 50-100 MW units can be useful. We are also in talks with some international partners for development of such units in third countries. We want to enhance our cooperation beyond execution of present projects," Nikita Mazein, vice president of Rusatom Overseas said in a statement.

Mint reported on Friday about India’s civilian nuclear power programme catching the fancy of African countries because climate change has hit their conventional hydropower generation capacity, which was primarily dependent on the Nile, the Niger, the Congo and the Zambezi river systems.

While hydropower generation has witnessed a decline leading to lower supply of electricity in African nations, India’s pressurized heavy water reactor’s (PHWR) unit size are well suited to meet their small demand load.

“We are looking for cooperation to execute projects not only in India but also in third countries. We are discussing with our partners in India how to execute the localization agreement signed three years ago. We are talking with stakeholders about developing new power plant projects," Mazein added in the statement.

The Indian government’s move in Africa comes at a time when China has made major forays into Africa since 2004-05. In recent years, China has also tried to co-opt African countries into its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a programme to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including railways, ports and power grids, across Asia, Africa and Europe.

Of India’s fleet of 22 commercial nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 6,780 megawatts (MW), which are run by state-run Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd, or NPCIL, there are 14 units of 220MW PHWRs, making it one of the largest fleets of such reactors.

“Rosatom is the main equipment supplier and technical consultant in the construction of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Russia and India have an action plan document for the construction of second nuclear power plant. The two countries are planning to develop a project of up to six nuclear power units of Russian design at a new site in India," the statement said.

India’s ambitious nuclear power plans include constructing a dozen new nuclear power reactors totaling 9,000 MW. While nine reactors totaling 6,700 MW is under construction, the Centre has also given in-principal approval for setting up nuclear power capacities totaling 25,248 MW across Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Kowada (Andhra Pradesh), Chhaya Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Haripur (West Bengal) and Bhimpur (Madhya Pradesh).

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