India speeds ahead on nuclear project before Macron visit

The country plans to build six nuclear power plants in partnership with France

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, greets France's President Emmanuel Macron at Elmau Castle in Kruen, Germany, in June 2022. EPA
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India is speeding ahead on a proposed nuclear power plant project in partnership with France before an expected visit by President Emmanuel Macron early next year, India's science minister said.

The Asian nuclear power is to build six nuclear power plants of 1,650 megawatts (MW) each at Jaitapur in western Maharashtra state — India’s largest clean energy plant with a total capacity of 9,900MW.

Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, French Minister of State for Development and International Partnerships, told Indian Science Minister Jitendra Singh on Tuesday that Mr Macron would visit the country in “early 2023”.

There is not yet official word from the country's foreign ministries on the proposed visit.

Mr Macron last visited India in March 2018.

He briefly met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi after his re-election to a second term during Mr Modi’s three-day visit to Europe in May.

New Delhi and Paris have shared ties since 1998 and remain partners on areas including defence, space travel, clean energy and the environment.

French company EDF last year submitted to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) its binding techno-commercial offer to build the six nuclear plants. The project was backed during talks between President Emmanuel Macron and President Narendra Modi.

India signed a nuclear agreement with the US in 2005 and the nation has since made civil nuclear agreements with 14 countries, with the aim of supplementing its growing energy demands and asserting its leadership position in the changing global order.

Nuclear energy is the fifth-largest source of electricity for India, which has 22 nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 6780MW in operation and one reactor of 700MW that was connected to the grid in January last year.

It aims to increase its atomic power contribution from 3.2 to 5 per cent by 2031.

The Jaitapur project is projected to bring $2.8 billion in revenue for the government, creating 50,000 jobs.

Updated: October 19, 2022, 12:23 PM