The Indian site of Jaitapur could host up to six of Areva's EPR nuclear power units, after a memorandum of understanding signed today in New Delhi with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).
The deal allows "the initiation of technical cooperation" between Areva and NPCIL towards building the reactors, which would supply 1600 MWe each. Should six units actually be built, Jaitapur would have greater generating capacity than any current nuclear power plant at 9600 MWe, the current leader being Kashiwazaki Kariwa in Japan where eight reactors produce 6898 MWe.
Areva said the memorandum also specified that it would provide uranium fuel for all the reactors throughout their operating lives of at least 60 years. This puts the potential Jaitapur project among the very largest in Areva's history.
Today's deal covers work towards a minimum of two reactors and remains far removed from an actual contract to build. It is expected that the units would be built in three phases of two units each at the site, which is in the state of Maharastra on India's west coast, about 250 kilometres south of Mumbai.
This document was signed by S K Jain, chair and managing director of NPCIL, and Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of Areva. It came during an official French nuclear industry visit to India, which itself follows the September 2008 signing of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the countries that made commercial contracts possible. Other leading nuclear nations such as Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia, the UK and USA have sent trade missions and Indian firms are expected to make many further large orders. The spending spree is expected to widen when Indian legislators change rules that insist on state control of nuclear projects.