Business Standard

EDF's move to raise EPR reactor cost triggers debate for hike in Jaitapur project cost, tariff

NPC & Areva downplays development saying talks are underway

EDF's move to raise Evolutionary Pressurized reactors (EPR) cost to over $11 billion for Flamanville project in France has triggered debate over similar hike by Areva during the supply of initial 2 EPRs of 1,650 MW for the Jaitapur nuclear project in Maharashtra. However, the anti nuclear lobby and the non government organizations, who are spearheading campaign against the proposed 9,900 MW Jaitapur project, claim that the and the per unit tariff are bound to increase. They expect the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) to provide clarity in this regard. On the other hand, NPC and Areva have downplayed the development saying that their talks were in progress.

Stricter regulation in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster contributed to bringing the total cost of the 1,600-MW Flamanville European pressurized reactor to 8.5 billion euros ($11.11 billion), the group said. In 2005, the state-owned utility estimated the reactor's cost at 3.3 billion euros.

Back home NPC and Areva are currently engaged in negotiations to enter into final works contract after India and France entered into an inter government civil nuclear agreement in December 2010. However, the Fukushima accident took place in March 2011 and the subsequent reports by French and Indian atomic energy regulators suggesting upgradation of safety in EPRs changed the tone and tenor of negotiations. About two years ago NPC had indicated the Jaitapur project cost at Rs 1 lakh crore and had estimated per unit tariff of around Rs 3.30.

NPC chairman and managing director KC Purohit said he had not received any official communication on EDF’s move to increase  cost.  He told Business Standard“I am not aware of any such move. As far as NPC’s talks with Areva on the supply of EPRs for Jaitapur project are concerned  they are in progress.”
Areva India chairman Arthur DE Montalembert said “As you know, AREVA does not comment about on-going discussions with its customers.”

On the EPR cost, Montalembert referred to the statement issued by AREVA which said “Following EDF’s announcement of the cost increase at completion of the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor (FA3), AREVA wishes to point out that this cost is not representative of the price of an EPRreactor in the series offered in the market today."

However, Anil Gachke, senior representative of Swadesh Jagran Manch argued that the rise in the Jaitapur project cost was quite inevitable. “Jaitapur will have same EPRs to be supplied by Areva. In view of EDF’s move, the per MW cost for the Jaitapur project works out to be Rs 38.19 crore and the total cost at Rs 3,78,87.19 crore,” he noted. He asked NPC to provide necessary facts in this regard at the earliest.

It must be mentioned here that Swadeshi Jagran Manch, which has close links with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had strongly opposed the now fallen Enron promoted Dabhol power project in Maharashtra in 1990s, was currently spearheading campaign against Jaitapur project.

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