French energy major AREVA’s European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) would be an ideal choice for India’s ambitious nuclear power programme as it is large, safe and economical to run, a senior French official said on Thursday.

“Our offer is competitive and the EPR is large (1650 MW), safe and very economical to run,” Mario Pain, Senior Nuclear Advisor, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Development, France told PTI on the sidelines of the two-day India-French nuclear business meet which concluded here on Thursday.

“Although it is expensive to build it is very efficient to operate and even cheaper in terms of megawatt cost,” Mr. Pain said replying to a query on the competitiveness of EPR with other reactors from Russia and U.S. which are in the process of negotiation with Indian utility company Nuclear Power Corporation of India limited (NPCIL).

Mr. Pain said, “India has an ambitious nuclear power programme and therefore will need several international cooperation but our technology is considered as best and it is up to India to choose the best in service of its people.”

India plans to have six EPRs at Jaitapur nuclear park in Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra and in the first phase two reactors will be built once the regulatory and statutory process are completed.

EPR has leak tight containment around the reactor besides a two-layer concrete wall with total thickness 2.6 m, designed to withstand impact by air planes and internal overpressure, according to AREVA.

The EPR design has several active and passive protection measures against accidents — four independent emergency cooling systems, each capable of cooling down the reactor after shutdown, in other words 300 per cent redundancy, he said.

Replying to a query on the enormous delay AREVA is facing in its first EPR plant being built at Olkiluoto in western Finland, Mr. Pain said, “it was our first plant of the third generation reactor of 1650 MW and a lot of lessons were learnt from that.”

“These experiences are utilised in the EPR that is coming up in Flamville in Northwest France,” he said adding that before the reactors are built in Jaitapur nuclear park, AREVA would have got experience of building four such reactors.

Mr. Pain also said the two day nuclear business meet has deepened the cooperation between India and France and added “it is interesting to see so many Indian companies participating and trying to get ready for the business once the ratification process is over in both the countries.”

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