India is aiming to cooperate with France on the development of small modular nuclear reactors, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seeks to expand its options to curb the country’s reliance on coal. Electricite de France SA and India’s Department of Atomic Energy are likely to complete a preliminary agreement to collaborate on the so-far largely unproven technology as French President Emmanuel Macron visits New Delhi this week, according to people familiar with the plans, who asked not to be identified as the details are private.
India’s atomic energy department didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment. The country’s Ministry of External Affairs declined to comment, as did a representative for EDF. The utility’s Chief Executive Officer Luc Remont is part of a delegation traveling with Macron, according to a French official.
India, the world’s third-biggest carbon dioxide emitter, is seeking to rapidly expand its use of nuclear power over the next decade as it aims to both decarbonize and meet rising energy demand. Nuclear plants accounted for less than 3% of electricity generation in 2022, according to data compiled by Bloomberg NEF.
Russia and the US have also offered to jointly develop a small modular reactor with India, and the issue was raised in talks between President Joe Biden and Modi last year, according to officials aware of the details who asked not to be named because discussions were private. Dozens of companies globally are working on advanced reactor designs, with most pitched as more flexible and lower-cost than existing plants. The outlook for the technology was dented in November, when NuScale Power Corp. canceled plans to build the first commercial power plant in the US that would have used several small modular reactors.