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French company keen to participate in Indian civilian N-programme
July 20, 2006 19:10 IST
French nuclear giant Areva on Thursday evinced interest in participating in the Indian civilian nuclear power programme, which is currently open only to state-owned companies. "We are willing to be a major player in nuclear programme. As soon as the international framework allows it, the Indian market will be one of our first priorities," Areva Executive Board Chairman Anne Lauvergeon said in New Delhi at a meeting organised by FICCI.
Areva, an end-to-end solutions provider for nuclear power plants, is already present in the transmission and distribution sector in India. Lauvergeon said Areva would only undertake supplies of products for setting up nuclear power plants and not engage in maintaining them.
On the investments the company was planning to make in India, she said Areva was looking at long-term investments as setting up a new plant is very expensive. "We at Areva have set up plans to answer a growing market and have outlined massive investments over the next five years mainly in mining and enrichment to provide fuel and in reactors and equipment," she said.
Minister for Science, Technology and Ocean Development Kapil Sibal, speaking in the same forum, said that there needs to be an assurance of consistent nuclear fuel supply as the present uranium reserves in the country were sufficient only for generating 10,000 MW of nuclear power.
"Nuclear energy not only needs to be affordable but also accessible. What India needs is an assured supply of uranium on a long term basis," Sibal said.
Citing the example of the Tarapore nuclear plant facing acute shortage of nuclear feedstock, the minister said we need an assurance from the west that it will not put impediments on the way to supply fuel to India. Sibal said the US must not deviate from the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement signed between the two countries on July 18, 2005 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the US.
The minister said that by 2025, India hopes to produce 25 per cent of its (54,000 MW) energy requirement from nuclear energy as compared to only 2.7 per cent now. He said India is capable of developing nuclear energy and must be given a chance to do so in other countries. "I am confident that India can build nuclear reactors at half the cost," Sibal said.
Areva's Lauvergeon also hinted at manufacturing a significant share of an Indian EPR (European Pressurised Water Reactor) in the country itself to bring down the cost of nuclear power production. "There is a potential to source in India some components to other international markets," she added.
"I hope that the soon to come opening of the nuclear market in India will speed up the implementation of Indian civilian nuclear power programme and Areva will support the Indian government and Indian industries in that direction," Lauvergeon said.