Friday, November 21, 2008

Russia inks huge Indian nuclear deal

Four new reactors for 4,400 MW will be built at Kudankulam

Sergey Kiriyenko, (right) kiriyenkoDirector General of RosAtom State Nuclear Energy Corp., visited the construction site of India's Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (Tamilnadu, Southern India), on Nov 20 and inked a deal on the spot which will be ratified next month. In December Russian President Dimitry Medvedev visits New Delhi. Indian Foreign Minister Shiv Shankar Menon told Indian wire services, "all the formalities are done."

The deal calls for four new reactors to be built in addition to the two VVER 1,000 MW units already under construction at that site. According to Russian Ambassador to India Vyacheslav Trubnikov, two of the reactors will be 1,000 MW and two additional units will be 1,200 MW.

The deal is the first major nuclear reactor trade deal with India since the NSG cleared the country to receive nuclear fuel from member countries. French nuclear giant Areva, Canada's AECL, and U.S. firms including Westinghouse and General Electric all have representatives working on similar deals with India.

From pint size to super size

Until the action by the NSG last September, India had lived for more than three decades outside the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. This status severely limited its ability to get nuclear fuel for its installed base of less than 4 GW of nuclear power. None of its operating plants are larger than 500 MW, all are older and less efficient than current designs, and some have operated at half capacity, or even closed down, due to fuel shortages.

In a visit to India Nov 14, Hugh MacDiarmid, CEO of AECL, told the Globe & Mail India's history of isolation meant it has not kept pace with western nuclear technology. India has also paid a price with rapid increases in fossil fueled plants and accompanying air pollution as well as greenhouse gases.

When completed, the complex at Kudankulam will be the single largest nuclear power station in India with a combined generation capacity of 6,400 MW. The first 1,000 MW reactor is reportedly nearing completion. Russia has shipped the first fuel loading containing enriched uranium for the unit to India.


Even engineers on foreign shores must be diplomats

For his part, Kiriyenko, went beyond the normal Soviet style of self-congratulatory rhetoric. In an oblique acknowledgment that not all has gone smoothly with the first two units, he thanked Indian and Russian engineers for “working hard for the sake of the general cause and not pointing at one another in case of problems.”

“This approach must be preserved,” Kiriyenko said.

A 17-member delegation from Rosatom came with Kiriyenko on the ground breaking visit. Over 100 Russian engineers and other specialists are working on the construction site according to a press release from RosAtom. Construction is being managed by Atomstroyexport company.

Every deal deserves a song

The mutual congratulations between India and Russia are completely over the top. Rather than quoting any of it, I'm providing a musical comment. Here's a song for the deal.

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