France’s EDF Group hopes that the terms of the deal to build a nuclear power plant in Jaitapur will be finalised by December 2018.

EDF and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd signed an Industrial Way Forward Agreement to develop the power plant during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India.

Speaking to BusinessLine , Chairman and CEO of EDF Group, Jean-Bernard Levy, said: “The French government is supporting EDF with some financing and also by giving some assurance regarding fuel delivery so that India will have what it needs to burn in a reactor when it is needed.”

What components of the Jaitapur project will be developed by EDF is yet to be confirmed. According to Levy, the estimated tariff for power generated from the project will be determined subsequently.

He also said France will supply nuclear fuel to India if the latter is unable to source it to run the proposed 9.6 GW project. While India is sufficiently capable of sourcing fuel on its own, there will also be support from the French, he said. “What we have requested from the French government is that considering their ability to source uranium, there will be a sort of back-up from France in order to support India in its sourcing policy.”

“The agreement defines the project’s industrial framework, the roles and responsibilities of the partners, as well as a planned timetable for the next steps,” said an EDF statement.

Fukushima fears

There have been concerns globally regarding nuclear power generation technologies after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. Concerns magnify in the case of the EPR (European Pressurised Reactor, also called Evolutionary Power Reactor) that EDF is offering, since there are no operational power plants in the world using it.

Allaying fears, Levy said: “This technology has been acquired by four countries — China, Finland, UK and France. So India will be the fifth country to adopt this technology…Those in China and France are very close to initiating operations.”

But the Industrial Way Forward Agreement that has been signed is just a stepping stone before the long fleet of stairs. Levy also said the company hopes that the finer terms of the deal with NPCIL will be finalised by the year-end.

“The joint target between the two governments is that we should be ready by the year-end. This does not mean we will be, but we are targeting to be ready (with more concrete terms of agreement). This is the objective,” Levy added.