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Nuclear fusion to quantum computing: India, Russia explore hi-tech projects

During PM Narendra Modi's recent Russia visit, Russian media reported that New Delhi and Moscow are in talks to construct six more high-powered nuclear power units, as well as small nuclear plants

Nuclear power, Building reactors

Representative image. Photo: Bloomberg

Bhaswar Kumar Delhi

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India and Russia are in talks to construct six more high-powered nuclear power plant units, as well as small nuclear power plants, at a new facility in India, Russian news agency TASS reported on Tuesday, citing information released by Russia's state-run corporation ROSATOM.

"New areas of cooperation are being discussed as well. On the table is the construction in India of six more Russia-designed high-powered power units and Russia-designed small nuclear power plants," said the files released by ROSATOM's press service, adding, "Joint work on closing the nuclear fuel cycle seems promising."

State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom (ROSATOM) is a multi-industry holding company, comprising assets in power engineering, construction, and machine building.

The announcement came during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recently concluded two-day Russia trip to attend the 22nd annual India-Russia summit.

In April 2024, Russia had also presented proposals for setting up floating nuclear power plants to India.

From new reactors to nuclear fusion

Both countries see significant potential for a partnership under the framework of the Russian multipurpose research reactor project on fast neutrons, Moneycontrol reported on Tuesday, citing ROSATOM.

Additionally, preparations are underway for the technical specifications for building a new Russian-designed nuclear power plant, which will have VVER-1200 reactor units, in India.

Moneycontrol also quoted ROSATOM as saying that India and Russia "have great potential for cooperation in the field of controlled nuclear fusion".

ROSATOM added that it was discussing the possibility of building "six more high-capacity nuclear units and small-scale nuclear power plants" within India.

Citing reports, Moneycontrol said that these new nuclear power plants would be built by state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Power Mech Projects Limited, an infrastructure construction company based in Hyderabad.

In May 2024, Power Mech reportedly announced that it had won an order worth Rs 563 crore from BHEL to construct a nuclear power plant.

The Kudankulam nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear plant in India and a flagship project between Moscow and New Delhi, is up and running in Tamil Nadu.

The Kudankulam plant is designed with six power units, using VVER-1000 reactors, with an installed capacity of 6,000 MW, with power units No. 1 and No. 2 being commissioned in 2013 and 2016.

India, Russia exploring quantum computing collaboration

The Moneycontrol report added that India and Russia are also actively exploring prospects of collaborating in the quantum computing field, including for the creation of quantum computers.

India and Russia aim to tap Northern Sea Route

Citing ROSATOM, Moneycontrol reported that Russia and India are also in talks about jointly developing the Northern Sea Route's transit potential.

The Northern Sea Route, a shipping route along the coast of Siberia, running from west of the Kola Peninsula through the Bering Strait in the east, is a quicker way to get from East Asia to western Russia than going the other way round.

At present, the predominant shipping routes between India and western Russia and Europe are via the Suez Canal and the Cape of Good Hope. However, the Northern Sea Route is becoming more feasible as a shipping passage because of the Arctic ice melt. In fact, the entire stretch is projected to be ice free by 2050.

According to the Moneycontrol report, India and Russia are also discussing the possibility of supplying Russian energy resources by way of the Northern Sea Route to Indian ports, with trans-shipment taking place at Russian Far Eastern ports. Both countries are also reportedly looking at options for establishing a pilot line for international container transit through the route.

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First Published: Jul 10 2024 | 6:53 PM IST

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