India and Russia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to expand scientific and technical cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. It was one of 30 bilateral documents signed in New Delhi during a two-day visit to India by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The MoU was signed by Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom, and Kumar Banerjee, secretary of India's Department of Atomic Energy.
A joint statement issued by Medvedev and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh said: "The sides expressed satisfaction with the development of bilateral cooperation in nuclear energy and hope for further expansion and strengthening of ties in this sphere." The Russian side also welcomed India's decision to establish a global nuclear energy techology centre and expressed willingness to discuss prospects for Russia's cooperation with the centre. The two countries also agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation with third countries in the field of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
Kiriyenko told reporters, "First of all, the talk is about the development of new generation of fast neutron reactors. The development of the thorium cycle is important to us as India has one of the world's largest thorium reserves."
According to a report from Nuclear.Ru, Kiriyenko said that the Indian government had confirmed readiness to provide a third nuclear power plant construction site to Russia, although he did not disclose any details as to where that site would be. Sites in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu state and Haripur in West Bengal have already been selected to house reactors based on Russian technology. "Each of the three sites will host not less than a total of six reactors, i.e. eighteen all in all," he was quoted as saying.
These latest proposals follow on from plans agreed by Kiyienko and Banerjee in March this year. A roadmap agreement outlines a construction plan for the third and fourth units at Kudankulam while also providing for the construction of the fifth and sixth units at the site. Also included in that agreement was the construction of two Russian units at Haripur. Kudankulam 5 and 6 and the two Haripur units would be built over the period 2012-2017. Kudankulam is already home to two Russian-designed reactors in advanced stages of construction, with the first unit expected to start up during the first quarter of 2011 and the second to follow later that year.
India expects to have 20,000 MWe of nuclear capacity on line by 2020 and 63,000 MWe by 2032. The country aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050