French President Macron to visit India next year, nuclear power on agenda

Updated - October 19, 2022 09:57 am IST

Published - October 18, 2022 10:14 pm IST - NEW DELHI

French President Emmanuel Macron. File.

French President Emmanuel Macron. File. | Photo Credit: Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to visit India in “early 2023” with India’s Science Minister Jitendra Singh committing on Tuesday to resolve “technical, financial and civil nuclear liability issues” surrounding the proposed nuclear power projects in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, that are to be built with French assistance.

Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, who’s Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, confirmed Mr. Macron’s visit, according to a statement from the Ministry of Science and Technology on Tuesday. Ms. Zacharopoulou, who attended a meeting of the International Solar Alliance, of which she is co-president here, also met Mr. Singh.

This is likely to be Mr. Macron’s first official visit to India since his re-election this year.

Also Read | France wants to be India’s best partner in defence manufacturing: French envoy Emmanuel Lenain

Last year, the French company EDF submitted to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL)its binding techno-commercial offer to build six European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) at Jaitapur. In May, this year, a team from the EDF visited India and held detailed talks with NPCIL officials.

The six proposed nuclear power reactors of 1,650 MW would become the largest, nuclear power generating site with a total capacity of 9900 MW as part of an umbrella nuclear deal signed with France in September 2008.

Mr. Singh in a statement on Tuesday underlined that nuclear power was clean and environment friendly and had great potential in ensuring India’s long-term energy security.  Nuclear power plants had so far generated about 755 billion units of electricity, saving about 650 million tonnes of CO2 emission.

Despite a long history of technical development, India has struggled to substantially increase the share of nuclear power in its energy mix. Despite the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal of 2008, that allowed India to trade in civilian nuclear components and nuclear fuel without membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, such trade has been minimal. One of the major impediments are reportedly India’s civil nuclear liability laws that put the onus on suppliers to pay for damage from a nuclear accident. This has made access to nuclear components harder and slowed the pace of India’s indigenous reactor development. Russia and France are the only countries, at present, involved or committed to building nuclear reactors in India.

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