With 22 nuclear reactors, India has the seventh-largest nuclear production fleet in the world, according to numbers from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
India’s total net electrical capacity of 6,255 MW trails behind China’s 42,800 MW. But as the rules for foreign firms operating nuclear facilities in India ease, the country’s largely indigenous nuclear program is starting to open up. That could change the nuclear landscape in the South Asian country.
With a shortage of fossil fuels, India is pursuing nuclear investments as an alternative to add to the country’s energy mix to power the country’s development.
Rapid development of nuclear capabilities comes after years of exclusion from trade in nuclear materials and technology, which was a result of the country’s non-signatory status to a 1970 treaty on nuclear non-proliferation. A civil liability law — which allows for unlimited legal recourse to nuclear operators up to 80 years following any nuclear accident — has further hampered international investment and cooperation.
It was only after a 2005 agreement between the U.S. and India on nuclear energy cooperation that the U.K., France and Canada took a similar approach. Bilateral cooperation in nuclear development was one of the highlights of a meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March.
French electricity company Electricite de France (EDF), one of the largest nuclear operators in the world, told CNBC last week that the company was in talks with the Indian government to build six European Pressurized Reactors in India. With a total capacity of 9.6 GW, the joint French-Indian Jaitapur project will be the “the largest nuclear plant in the world,” said Marianne Laigneau, group senior executive vice president at EDF.
Globally, nuclear energy capacity looks set to increase as part of countries continue to ramp up efforts to decarbonize.
“We see a large growth in nuclear energy around the world. In 2018, 2019 we will have more reactors coming online than it has been in the last 30 years,” said the World Nuclear Association’s Rising.