India approves Russian design for Haripur nuclear plant

Photo by Ruslan Krivobok

Photo by Ruslan Krivobok

According to India’s minister of state for environment and forests, Jairam Ramesh, a study completed by the environmental board of the Department of Atomic Energy showed that construction and operation of the proposed facility will have no damaging impact on the environment. “Environmental experts have given the green light to the Haripur nuclear project,” said Ramesh.

This is one of the three sites where Russia plans to build up to 20 generation units. Under the Russian-Indian cooperation agreements on nuclear energy, six units will be constructed in Kudankulam in the state of Tamil Nadu, and from four to six units in Haripur in West Bengal.

"Our negotiations with India and the government’s approval of the Haripur nuclear project are really good news, proving the competitive strength of our nuclear industry,” says Nikolai Ponomarev-Stepnoi, vice president of the Kurchatov Institute, a major nuclear research centre, and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “I am just back from India. That country clearly needs to develop its energy sector. The growth opportunities are enormous given the amount of available natural and human resources, but they are shackled by the lack of energy supply. India is determined to grow its nuclear sector and it is good that India will continue doing this together with Russia and our institute. At least in the early stages, when it is critical to rely on proven technology. Our task is to meet the partner’s expectations and deliver top quality solutions. So we need to continue working hard to refine the designs of our water-moderated water-cooled nuclear reactors."

"After the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted its restrictions, India has been free to collaborate with companies from all over the world, but still prefers Russian reactors," says the expert. "My explanation is simple: Russia happened to feel the advent of the ‘nuclear renaissance’ ahead of other countries. We have completed a number of nuclear utilities in India and established a good record with Kudankulam. We must build on this record and maintain superior standards by involving the best resources to make sure the facilities we construct can run safely for 60 years with robust generation performance," says the institute’s vice president.

"India is also thinking about long-term needs. So should we," adds Ponomarev-Stepnoi. "The reactors we are going to build require continuous fuel supply throughout their operational life until the 2070s. Thus we have to look for new engineering solutions to ensure fuel production in the future. In this sense, a programme for designing the technology of the next generation must take into account the needs of India and all our partners. I mean application of fast neutron reactors and a closed fuel cycle. In my view, we should come forward with a collaborative proposal for India regarding these nuclear applications. Apart from generating enough power for our partners, these technologies will also provide fuel for hydrogen and electric vehicles. We need, therefore, to focus on one more component of the nuclear industry – nuclear hydrogen production," concludes the scientist.

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